Straughn girls advancePublished 12:01am Friday, February 21, 2014
DOTHAN — All season long, Straughn has found ways to win.
The Lady Tigers did it once again Thursday morning in a 38-31 victory over Daleville in the semifinals of the Class 3A South Regional Tournament at Dothan’s Civic Center.
SHS got out to a good start in the first half to lead 25-17 at the break, but then the third period came, in which the Lady Tigers didn’t even make a bucket.
In the fourth, SHS regrouped and that’s where Lady Tigers junior forward Jacie Williamson put it upon herself to make essential baskets to help her team pull away.
“This is what we’ve been preparing for all season,” Williamson said.
With the victory, the second-ranked Lady Tigers improve to 27-1 and advance to play in their second straight regional final on Saturday at 12:20 p.m. SHS plays Abbeville — who beat Cottage Hill 73-58 yesterday — to set up a rematch from last year’s regional semifinals.
SHS coach Scott Kinsaul said the girls did struggle in the third despite leading 27-24 going into the final period, but they turned it up a notch when they needed to.
“We’ve been able to do that all year, make plays when we need to,” Kinsaul said. “You have to attribute that to the girls’ experience and playing here; just the character they have. We’re just glad that we’re playing Saturday.”
Williamson made two free throws to start the fourth and later drained a 3-pointer to push the lead to 32-26 with more than six minutes to go.
Katelyn Kinsaul, who was a mastermind with her team’s half-court trap defense, got a steal and was fouled. On the foul, she hurt her elbow coming down on the floor, but Janelle Nurse came in and made her first of two. Kinsaul later finished the game.
The Lady Tigers did a good job of switching defenses to confuse DHS down the stretch as they stuck with the half-court and sometimes full court scheme.
Katelyn said it was “tough” for her down on the baseline as she guarded a much taller player.
“It was a lot different for them,” she said.
Later in the final slot, Brentley Armstrong made a one-and-one to get SHS ahead 35-26.
Two DHS offensive fouls later, Williamson drained two from the line with one minute left to seal the deal.
Daleville cut the game to three with 1:32 left in the third, when Lady Warhawks forward Garriesha Richard drained one of two from the line.
What helped spurt the Lady Tigers late in the game came when Kinsaul got a good block on the 6-foot Fils-Aime’ with three ticks left in the third.
The struggle for SHS in the third came from committing too many turnovers and not getting its inside game going, mainly because of Fils-Aime’.
The DHS star gave Williamson trouble on her drives to the basket.
“I thought Tia was outstanding on the defensive end,” the SHS coach said. “Jacie hasn’t struggled like that, getting shots up all year.”
Williamson made a putback and center Paige Taylor got in a jumper for a 18-8 advantage with about 5:49 left in the first half.
Fils-Aime’ answered with an old-fashioned 3-point play at the 5:38 mark.
Kinsaul saved an out-of-bounds ball that landed in the hands of Williamson for a jumper to get the lead to 20-11 with 3:37 in the half.
Williamson helped give SHS a 25-17 halftime lead with a free throw with 0.7 seconds left.
Kinsaul grabbed a steal and a layup for a 6-4 lead in the first, and Nurse drained back-to-back 3-pointers to help surge SHS ahead.
Kinsaul added a runner at the buzzer to give her team a 14-8 edge after the opening period.
Williamson led SHS with 21 points, and was 10-for-12 from the line. Armstrong chipped in seven and Kinsaul had six.
Fils-Aime’ led DHS with 15 points and 14 rebounds.