Looking to advance

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Straughn's Jacie Williamson (10) and Katelyn Kinsaul (5) driveto the bucket during the South Regional Final in Dothan. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Straughn’s Jacie Williamson (10) and Katelyn Kinsaul (5) driveto the bucket during the South Regional Final in Dothan. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Just a couple weeks ago, Straughn was celebrating team and coaching milestones.

The Lady Tigers will try and conquer another feat — a berth to play in the state championship — today in the Class 3A Girls Final 48 Championships at the BJCC Arena in Birmingham.

Ninth-ranked SHS will face seventh-ranked Holly Pond in the state semifinals at 3 p.m., and from what Lady Tigers coach Scott Kinsaul said he’s learned about the Lady Broncos, they live and die by 3-pointers.

“They shoot a lot of threes,” Kinsaul said. “They shoot them well. That’s something we’re definitely going to have to learn how to defend.”

Entering today’s game, the Lady Broncos are 29-5 overall and are led by senior standout Taylor Terry, who is capable of getting hot from the 3-point arc and does most of her damage in the paint.

Kinsaul said limiting Terry’s shots are a must.

“We can limit her shots, and they’re going to really have to shoot a high percentage to score against us,” he said. “So, we’re just going to try to do what we’ve been doing. We’re going to contest every shot and if they miss, get the rebound. I know they’re a very tall team and very long and athletic team. So, it’s going to be tough for us.

“We knew that if we got to Birmingham, we were going to face a good team — and we’re a good team,” he said.

Additionally, Holly Pond also has 3-point threats Natasha Holcombe and Meg Gambrill (a point guard). Taylor Rowell and Rachel Finely also have bee instrumental in the Broncos’ season success.

Unlike Straughn, this will be Holly Pond’s second appearance in the Final 48 since 2010, when they lost to Sumter County, the eventual state champs, in the semifinals.

This season, the Lady Broncos have allowed two teams to score more than 50 points on them. Straughn has limited one team to score more than 50 points.

“They like to run the zone trap, and they’re very good in it,” Kinsaul said. “We’ve got to know where our offensive players are at all times. We’ve got to stay out of the trapping areas.”

The Lady Tigers (32-2) enter today’s game after defeating rival foe Opp 48-41 in the South Regional Finals. Holly Pond beat Ashville 55-39 in the Northeast Regional Finals, where Holcombe, Gambrill, Rowell and Finley combined for nine of the Lady Broncos’ 10 3-pointers.

Kinsaul said the two big keys, which have been the same all season, are to rebound and handle pressure well.

After Saturday’s south regional championship game, Kinsaul was asked what he’ll be stressing to the girls this week.

Kinsaul, who has been to the Final 48 a few times before while at Samson as a head boys coach, said then and on Monday for the girls to have fun.

“We’re one of only four teams who are still playing basketball,” he said. “We’re going to practice at Spain Park at 12:30 (Tuesday) and go watch some basketball games (tonight), go have some supper, get a good night’s sleep, and we’re just going to have fun.

“These girls have earned everything and deserved everything they get,” he said. “We’re just going to go up there and have a great time.”

Kinsaul said there should be a strong Straughn contingent traveling with the team this week.

“We just again want to thank our fans for their support at the regional tournament,” he said. “It does a lot of good for these girls to see a friendly face cheering them on up there. We’re hoping to have the whole Straughn community up there in Birmingham.”