Crowd willing

Published 12:02 am Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Opp’s Asia Edwards (20, Saquaya Lane (24), Laiken Free (14) and Nisha Stoudemire (22) play on defense during the first half Monday night. Straughn’s Katelyn Kinsaul (5) waits until Brittany Driver (11) and Paige Taylor (12) get open for a pass. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Opp’s Asia Edwards (20, Saquaya Lane (24), Laiken Free (14) and Nisha Stoudemire (22) play on defense during the first half Monday night. Straughn’s Katelyn Kinsaul (5) waits until Brittany Driver (11) and Paige Taylor (12) get open for a pass. |
Andrew Garner/Star-News

Straughn girls beat Opp 37-28, win Class 3A, Area 2 title

Straughn’s crowd willed the Lady Tigers to a 37-28 win over Opp on Monday night, and SHS went on to claim the Class 3A, Area 2 championship.

Throughout the contest, fans and supporters clung on to every play, every call and every made bucket on both sides of the court.

With this victory, the Lady Tigers (29-2) earn the right to host T.R. Miller in the Class 3A South Sub Regional on Thursday. Opp falls to 19-4 on the season and travels to Cottage Hill (19-9) the same day.

Opp’s four losses this season have come to Straughn — once in the Red Level Girls Christmas Tournament and three times in area play.

The Lady Tigers started the game with a full press, which affected Opp’s fast break and transition attack.

“Both teams were playing each other for a fourth time,” SHS coach Scott Kinsaul said. “We know their tendencies and they know our tendencies. They did a real good job on the boards tonight against us. We’re just glad to win.”

SHS led 5-0 in the first period after a short series of buckets from Katelyn Kinsaul and Brittany Driver, who both led the Lady Tigers in scoring for the night.

Opp’s Nisha Stoudemire got a jumper to put the game at 5-2 to get the Lady Bobcats on the board.

After Saquaya Lane got the back-end of a pair, Opp cut the lead to 5-3.

Driver then went to town, carrying the Lady Tigers on a 6-0 run to go up 11-3 with more than 1:30 to go in the first.

To end the first period, Savannah Gerber got an old-fashioned 3-ball and Opp trailed 12-6.

The Lady Bobcats went on to outscor Straughn 9-6 in the second period after a quick 6-0 run from the start.

Lane scored on passes from Stoudemire and Laiken Free, Stoudemire got a long jumper on the offensive end to put OHS neck-and-neck at 12-all with 4:05 left in the first half.

Katelyn then got a jumper to put the Lady Tigers ahead 14-12 and Opp’s Ladestiny Davis answered with a layup to get the game back to 14-all.

Katelyn and Driver converted steals on the offensive end to run out the first half with the score at 18-15 at the break.

With the lead, Kinsaul said he reminded his girls to keep playing like they have been.

“I just told them we’ve got to rebound better and take care of the basketball, and value each possession,” he said. “Make our shots when we were open. We missed a lot of easy shots to begin with.”

Opp coach SaRhonda Dickerson said she could start to see her girls’ hunger in the second period, after a slow start in the first period.

“The girls were focused,” Dickerson said. “They were hungry for it. They wanted to fight. When they got down a little, they lost focus mentally.”

Lane started the scoring effort for OHS in the third period, draining three of her six free throws to cut the lead to 21-18.

OHS created many fast breaks on the defensive end, but couldn’t finish by missing a lot of layups, Dickerson said.

“(There were) A lot of missed layups,” she said. “That’s the game changer. I think it was 16 missed layups.”

It was the missed layups which caused the fast break failures, the Lady Bobcats coach added.

“They were throwing it over (each other) and those were the turnovers,” Dickerson said. “If we could’ve cut down on the turnovers and made half of our shots, we would’ve won. The stats speak for themselves.”

Katelyn found Driver over the top on an inbound play and went on a 3-0 run to end the third period.

The crowd came in quite handy in the fourth period, as the Lady Tigers didn’t get off to a good start.

After Stoudemire got a jumper out of a Lady Bobcats timeout, Kinsaul called time with 7:04 on the clock to talk to the group.

Out of the short break, Straughn’s Paige Taylor got a jumper and Jacie Williamson — both sophomores — drove the baseline to put the Lady Tigers ahead 30-22 with 6:07 left in the game.

The Lady Bobcats answered with a 3-pointer to keep SHS honest.

Driver found herself at the line and missed two free throws.

However, Katelyn found herself a rebound and got a putback to give SHS a comfortable 32-25 lead.

At this moment, the Lady Tigers ate up clock, made essential free throws on getting fouled to close out the game.

“It’s a load off of our shoulders,” Kinsaul said about the win. “We’re just glad to being able to play at home on Thursday night.”

Kinsaul added the crowd deserves a lot of credit.

“I am so proud of our fans for being there,” he said. “I really thought they helped us tonight. Mr. (Will) Parker and the Pep Band, give them some credit. What a great job they did. I think they’re the ones who willed us to win tonight — our fans and supporters.”

Tournament Most Valuable Player Brittany Driver led SHS with 16 points. Katelyn Kinsaul, who also made the All-Tournament team, chipped in 15 points.

Opp’s Saquaya Lane, and All-Tournament team member, led the Lady Bobcats with 11 points. Stoudemire chipped in seven points and Davis had five points.

Laiken Free of Opp and Jacie Williamson of Straughn also were selected to the All-Tournament team.