Focused on task

Published 12:03 am Thursday, February 20, 2014

Straughn's Rollin Kinsaul advances down the court during the South Sub-Regional. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Straughn’s Rollin Kinsaul advances down the court during the South Sub-Regional. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Straughn to battle with Daleville today at Regional

Straughn will be looking to do what it does best today against Daleville in the Class 3A South Regional Tournament at the Dothan Civic Center, Tigers coaches said Wednesday afternoon.

The Tigers’ boys and girls teams will be tipping off against the Warhawks in the semifinals of the tournament that’s the precursor to the Final 48 Championships next week in Birmingham. Teams need to win twice to garner a state tournament berth.

For the SHS boys, this will be their first appearance in the regionals since 2008, when they fell in the finals at Troy University’s Sartain Hall. The girls are pretty familiar with the Civic Center, as they won the regional last season.

SHS boys coach Rusty Andrews said it’s going to take one heck of an effort to beat DHS for the second time this season. The sixth-ranked Tigers (20-4) beat the Warhawks 49-43 on Jan. 3.

“We better play one of our best ball games to have a chance against Daleville,” Andrews said. “They’re very athletic and well coached. Since Christmas, I don’t think they’ve lost maybe one ball game.

“They’re playing real well,” he said. “I just feel like we’ve got to do everything fundamentally sound, and can’t turn the ball over to have a chance.”

Top players for Daleville (21-8) are senior guards Aaron Cope, Robert McGirt and CoCo Hayes. McGirt averages 19.5 points and 3.7 assists per game; Cope averages 7.3 points and a team-high 10 rebounds per game; and Jaylyn Hinton averages 10.5 and Hays 9.2.

Andrews said the main key is rebounding today.

“They have a post player (Cope) who has got pretty good size,” he said. “We’ve got to be able to rebound with him. I told this group at the beginning of the year, the key for them is rebounding.”

The Lady Warhawks (23-5) have junior center Tia Fils-aime’, who is averaging 18.5 points, 10.9 rebounds, 3.9 blocks and 1.2 steals per game this year.

SHS girls coach Scott Kinsaul said limiting her touches is crucial for success today.

“She’s their best player,” Kinsaul said about Fils-aime’. “She’s so athletic. She’s good. We’re going to try and limit her touches as much as possible.”

When asked what the keys are for today’s match, Kinsaul didn’t hesitate to say that it’s “rebounding.”

“If we can block her out and rebound, we’ll be OK,” he said. “We’ve got to play good defense. Just like we always try to preach every day — defense and rebounding; and taking care of the basketball.”

The second-ranked Lady Tigers (26-1) enter the regional tournament on a 24-game win streak. On their previous meeting, the girls won 42-26.

While this may be Straughn’s first appearance in a while for the boys, it’s going to be the Warhawks’ third straight under former Pleasant Home Eagle and DHS coach Troy Turman. The Warhawks lost in the regional finals two years ago. Turman played at point guard under Anthony Clark at PHS during the 2001 and 2002 state championship seasons at the small 1A school.

That’s always a concern when you’re playing against another opponent who has had experience in this type of atmosphere, where it will be big and loud, Andrews said.

“We went and practiced earlier this week at LBW and Troy at Sartain Hall to try to get a feel for it (the longer court). You’ve just got to concentrate. It’s something I’ve told my guys all week. Concentrate on what you’re doing and don’t worry about the environment,” he said. “But still, it’s nothing like playing in the Civic Center. We’re looking forward to going anyway.”

Kinsaul said it’s to the girls advantage after having the experience they had last season.

“Daleville was there last year,” he said. “I like this group and I like the experience they have. I think it’s going to be important. Experience has a lot to do with it.”

Both coaches said they expect a good crowd to show up for the games today, where tip off for the girls is at 9 a.m. and at 10:30 a.m. for the boys.

“We expect to carry a good crowd and we know they’re going to have a good crowd,” Andrews said. “We’re just excited and glad to be there. We’re there on business.”

Kinsaul said, “I want to thank our fans. We’re looking for a big crowd there (today). A lot of the students are going. We can’t wait to see them cheer.”