Coping with pressure

Published 12:03 am Saturday, December 28, 2013

Straughn’s Paige Taylor (12, center) feels the press as Andalusia’s Merikal McCaskill guards Friday night. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Straughn’s Paige Taylor (12, center) feels the press as Andalusia’s Merikal McCaskill guards Friday night. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Straughn girls top Andalusia 44-37

Straughn held on against Andalusia’s attack in the fourth period as the Lady Tigers topped the Lady Bulldogs 44-37 on Friday at Red Level’s 16th annual girls Christmas tournament.

From the first half, SHS found itself in some early adversity because junior guard and top-scorer Jacie Williamson was tagged with three fouls already. Andalusia did a good job of playing with Straughn’s pressure to keep the game close.

SHS coach Scott Kinsaul said the girls “grew up some.”

“We had to basically play a (second) half without Jacie because of foul trouble,” Kinsaul said. “The other girls stepped up.”

While the bench players did their part, SHS struggled from the line in the second half, only making four of its 16 attempts.

“We’re usually better than that,” Kinsaul said.

AHS did a good job of applying pressure on Straughn when it needed to. Down 33-18 with 4:13 left in the third, Andalusia’s Alexis Lawrence got a steal, converted on the other end and then got another steal before the ball was knocked out of bounds on a good effort play by Straughn’s Paige Taylor.

Grace Burns then got a jumper off of a D’Ashia Johnson pass to cut the game to 33-22.

The Lady Tigers held a 36-24 lead going into the fourth period, where Andalusia’s Laticia Crittenden drove the right side of the lane and scored six of her 10 points.

Straughn’s Katelyn Kinsaul got a pass to Williamson on the inside for two and SHS led 39-26. After a short series, Straughn’s Emily Wood then made one foul shot to increase her team’s lead to 40-26.

Crittenden did her thing on her second drive down the right side of the period to get the game to 40-28.

Kinsaul answered with a runner for a 42-28 lead.

Andalusia then went on a 7-0 run to cut the game to 42-35, thanks to a Burns 3-point play, two foul shots and a layup from Johnson with less than 1:41 to go.

A few seconds prior to Johnson’s layup, Williamson fouled out, and then a short time later, Katelyn fouled out.

Kinsaul said the girls hadn’t worked on being in that particular situation much late in a game like that before this season.

“That’s another reason why looking back now that we won, I’m glad Katelyn fouled out because I got some experience from some other girls, and that’s what these tournaemnts are all about,” he said.

Straughn’s Janelle Nurse dropped her team’s final point on a foul shot with 9.6 left.

Williamson led SHS with 15 points.

Crittenden had 10; Lawrence chipped in five points, six rebounds and five steals; Burns had eight points; Kim Landrum had seven points; and Merikal McCaskill added five rebounds.

“Offensively, we handled the pressure better,” AHS coach Brad Garner said. “I think the difference in the ball game is still turnovers. If we can cut down on those, there’s a lot of other things we can do well. We’ve just got to get rid of those. We actually got some tough shots to fall, and thought we defended well.”

Andalusia had 22 turnovers in the first half, as Straughn led 24-15 at the break. SHS was leading 13-7 after the first period.

Andalusia plays W.S. Neal at 3 p.m. today for third place, while Straughn advances to play area foe Opp in the tournament’s championship tonight at 6.

Opp 31, W.S. Neal 26

Opp’s Saquaya Lane scored 22 points to help lead the Lady Bobcats to a 31-26 victory over W.S. Neal last night.

The Lady Bobcats led 14-3 after the first period, 21-11 at halftime and 30-15 after the third period.

“We finally put the pieces of the puzzle together, and played as a team,” OHS girls coach SaRhonda Dickerson said.

OHS has been struggling with a lot of injured players so far this season, and Dickerson said with those returning to the court, the girls are stepping their games up.

“They have more confidence now, and are getting better every day,” she said.

The RLS girls fell 37-34 to Georgiana.