1 game at a time

Published 12:02 am Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Andalusia’s Alectricia Barnes (foreground) and Shi’Amber Townsend go through a drill at practice on Monday. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

For the last two years, the Andalusia Lady Bulldogs varsity basketball team has come up short at the regional tournament, falling in the semifinal round in both.

In response, AHS head girls basketball coach Bennie Shellhouse said the team will take a different approach to the game this season.

“We’re going to go one game at a time and quit thinking about the pressures of the Final Four and the state and regional championships,” Shellhouse said. “Whatever happens, happens, and we’ll just leave it all out on the court.”

The Lady Bulldogs have five seniors on their squad this year in Alexis Horton, Shi’Amber Townsend, Alison Daniels, Alectricia Barnes and Latrexius Trawick.

Townsend, a returning starter for the Lady Bulldogs, said winning a state championship is something the seniors, along with the rest of the team, want to accomplish.

“If we play as a team, I don’t think we’re beatable,” Townsend said.

The Lady Bulldogs are coming off a 2010-11 season where they finished 25-5, and for the past three years have accumulated a 75-15 record under the helm of Shellhouse, who is entering his fourth season as the head coach of the AHS girls team.

Shellhouse said right now, he’s looking for the girls to play competitive.

“I’m not looking for a perfect season,” he said. “We just have to make sure we progressively get better through the year.

“What we do right here in the beginning is just a stepping stone to what we want to do at the end of the year,” he said.

After the home-opener against Dothan next Monday, and a Nov. 17 contest at Enterprise, the Lady Bulldogs will compete in the EHS Thanksgiving Tournament.

The start of the season will help Shellhouse know where his team stands before December’s crucial games and January’s start of area play.

“We’ll get broke in really well at the beginning,” he said.

Andalusia will compete in Class 4A, Area 3 with rival Straughn, Ashford and Headland this season.

Shellhouse said he got a good look at SHS during the summer, and said they’re much-improved.

“They are a lot better this year than they were last year,” he said. “I think they’ll be competitive for us this year.”

Shellhouse added that the area outlook overall looks good for his team because of its athleticism.

“Area-wise, again our athleticism really hurts a lot of people,” he said. “I think the difference between this year’s team and last year’s team is that I’ll be able to play a couple more girls off the bench that wouldn’t have been able to play last year, and be able to contribute.”

The Lady Bulldogs fell to UMS-Wright in the regional semifinals the last time they were in the tournament before the Final Four.

In that game, it could be said that the girls fell flat during the loss.

For Townsend and Barnes, that isn’t going to happen this season with as much experience the team has in its drive for a state championship ring, they said.

“We’ve gotten mature, and we know we’ve got to fight to the finish,” Barnes said.