Sunday Sports Brunch: 2 forwards sign with Alabama women's basketball, Chelangat honored

Becky Hopf
The Tuscaloosa News
The University of Alabama volleyball team played its final matches of the COVID-shortened fall season this week, splitting its home series against LSU with a 3-1 win  on Sunday but a 3-0 loss on Monday. Alabama finished the fall 2-6.

Headed to Tuscaloosa to join the University of Alabama women’s basketball team next season is a pair of forwards, 6-foot-1 Kayla Blackshear of Orlando, Fla., and 6-3 Taylor Cullinan from Dallas, Ga.

Blackshear has been ranked as high as No. 75 overall in espnW's 2021 class going into her senior season. She plays for Lake Highland Prep, which won Florida’s 4A championship last season. Going into her final season, she’s averaging 11.6 points per game and 7.1 rebounds. Her brother, Kerry Jr., played at Florida and Virginia Tech. Another brother, Kenan, is on the Florida Atlantic team, and both her mother, Lamilia, and father, Kerry, played at Stetson.

Cullinan plays at North Paulding High school and averages 11.8 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.4 blocks a game. She’s a two-sport athlete who also plays volleyball.

Mercy Chelangat takes top league honor

First, she ran away with the women’s SEC individual cross country title, and now, Alabama’s Mercy Chelangat has captured the league’s top women’s honor in the sport.

Chelengat, a junior from Kericho, Kenya, has been named the SEC Women’s Cross Country Runner of the Year.

8 pitchers highlight Alabama baseball signing class

Among the 14 players who have signed national letters of intent to play baseball for the Crimson Tide are eight pitchers.

Two of those 14 signees are from Tuscaloosa and are teammates at American Christian Academy. Nathan Shelton is a left-hand pitcher and outfielder for the Patriots. Hunter Sute is a catcher and infielder.

The incoming class includes 12 high school seniors and two junior college players. The pitching crew includes lefthanders Conner Ball of Chelsea High, Brandon Clarke from Independence High in Ashburn, Va., Jake Leger from Iowa Wester Community College, and Shelton. Incoming right-handers are Hagan Banks from Plainville, Ga.; Luke Holman out of Wilson High in Sinking Spring, Pa.; Braylon Myers of Oak Grove High School; and Kade Woods from Quachita Christian in Monroe, La., Catcher Graham Crawford from Pearl River Community College.

Infielders include Will Hodo from Wayne Academy in Waynesboro, Miss.; Noah Miller from Ozaukee High in Fredonia, Wisc.; and Jimmy Thies of St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Outfielder Camden Hayslip from Friendship Christian in Lebanon, Tenn., also signed.

Five-time Slovenian doubles champion among tennis signees

Alabama tennis coach George Husack announced three signees this week. Filip Planinsek won the U16 and U18 Slovenia national singles championship and is a five-time Slovenian national champion in doubles. He represented Slovenia in the 2017 U16 European Championships.

From San Antonio comes Zach Foster, who ranks No. 5 in the nation in USTA Boys 18s and is the No. 1-ranked player in USTA Texas 16s & 18s. He finished third at the 2019 Boys 18s National Doubles Championships.

Rounding out the class is Australia’s Enzo Aguiard, who is ranked 10th in 18s and under in his country.

International soccer players among incoming freshman class

Ten players, all incoming freshmen, have signed to play with Alabama’s soccer next season. The incoming class includes forward Emelie Kobler who attended Austria’s U19 national team training camp. Left-footed Aislin Streicek is a midfielder and forward from West Vancouver, British Columbia, and was a member of the U15 Canadian National Team.

Also signing were Hannah Alexander of Lake Travis, Texas, a goalkeeper who has 17 career shutouts; goalkeeper Eva Hoyseth of Lake Braddock High in Clifton, Va.; midfielder Leah Kunde of Christian High in San Diego; midfielder/forward Raigan Powell of Rowlett High in Rowlett, Texas, a U.S. Youth Soccer national champion in 2016 and a high school all-American with international playing experience; midfielder/forward Morgan Quillen of Carroll Senior High in Southlake, Texas, who helped her team win the Texas 6A championship in 2019; defender Madison Schott of Flower Mound, Texas; and forward Brooke Steere of Dexter High in Dexter, Mich., whose club team was a two-time national runner-up.

Tide volleyball team splits in season finale against LSU

In its final series and matches of the COVID-shortened fall season, Alabama volleyball split two home matches against LSU on last Sunday and Monday.

The Crimson Tide celebrated Senior Night on Sunday with a 3-1 win, coming back from a 25-21 first-set loss to win the next three sets and the match by scores of 25-21, 25-18 and 25-21. Kennedy Muckelroy and Alyiah Wells both had 17 kills to lead Alabama.

LSU bettered Alabama in the Monday match, winning 3-0 by scores of 25-21, 25-18 and 25-21. With the loss, Alabama ended the fall 2-6.

UWA’s Bulus advances to ITA Fall Circuit semifinals

The 2020 Intercollegiate Tennis Association Fall Circuit, played at Tuscaloosa Tennis Center, found the University of West Alabama’s Christopher Bulus swatting his way into the semifinals and defeating an All-American along the way.

In his opening match, Bulus defeated NCAA Division II All-American Ondrej Ctverak of Hawaii Pacific in straight sets, 6-0, 6-3. His run included two wins against Penn State players to advance to the semifinals, where he fell 6-4, 4-6, 10-6 to Oscar Cutting from Memphis.

Gordo and Hale County have softball players bound for Livingston

Two area softball players will be moving to Livingston next fall to play for the University of West Alabama.

Gordo’s Taylor Clegg, who was second-team All-State in 2019 and a 2016 Tuscaloosa News Super 9 team member, is a utility  player who UWA coach Carie Dever-Boaz said can “play just about anywhere in the field other than catcher for us.” 

Dever-Boaz said the same of signee Kori Young, who helped Hale County win the 2018 4A state championship.

Also signing with the Tigers was Oak Mountain outfielder Riley Sullivan, Karys Black of Boone County High School in Kentucky and Rylie Grantz of Lafayette High School in Lexington, Ky.

Holy Spirit boys open with a win

On Thursday, the Holy Spirit boys basketball team opened its 2020-21 season with a 46-33 victory over Sumiton Christian. Evan Jones led all scorers with 25 points and 10 rebounds for the Saints. Colin DeLoach scored nine points and Garrett Wilson eight. On Monday, Holy Spirit (1-0) will play at Oak Grove.

Northridge girls off to 4-0 start

The Northridge girls’ basketball team’s 49-41 win against Homewood on Thursday night gave the Jaguars a 4-0 record. Aniyah Cabbil led with 15 points. Fantasia Wilson scored 12 and Alana Green 10. Lydia Paulette led the defense with eight blocks and seven rebounds.

JamyaDavis’s double-double leads Sipsey Valley road win

Sipsey Valley’s Jamyas Davis scored 18 points and pulled down 12 rebounds in Thursday night’s 73-64 win at Hale County. Jamariun Bush scored 15, Martavious Russell scored 13. Jamirrus Fuller and Tyrien Smith scored 10 apiece.

Hale County’s Jamarion Ryans led all scorers with 24 points.

Knights dominate against Patrician Academy

It was a lopsided victory Thursday for Tuscaloosa Academy with a 71-15 win against Patrician Academy. The win puts the Knights at 3-0 going into Monday’s game at Lee-Scott Academy.

Sam Rowley scored a game-leading 11 points for TA. A trio of players, Elliot Mount, Wilson King and Carson Claytor, each scored eight points.

To submit items for Sunday Sports Brunch, including high school athletics results with scores, records and leaders, email sports@tuscaloosanews.com.