It’s game time

Published 12:04 am Thursday, February 27, 2014

Straughn's Katelyn Kinsaul (5) drives down the court off of a steal. SHS plays Lauderdale County today in the Class 3A girls state semifinals. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Straughn’s Katelyn Kinsaul (5) drives down the court off of a steal. SHS plays Lauderdale County today in the Class 3A girls state semifinals. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

It’s game day.

No. 2 Straughn will tip off against top-ranked Lauderdale County today in the Final 48 Class 3A Girls State Semifinals at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.

Today’s game, which gets going at 3 p.m., will be no easy feat for SHS, who is making its second-straight Final 48 appearance.

LCHS is the two-time defending state champions and is riding a 43-game win streak — dating back to last season — heading into the contest.

SHS coach Scott Kinsaul said the girls are ready to play.

“We’re excited to be playing,” Kinsaul said. “The girls are excited and confident. I’m confident.

“It’s great to be playing in that atmosphere again,” he said. “We’re looking forward to 3 o’clock on Thursday.”

LCHS (37-0) is loaded with a bucket-full of talent. It all starts with two of a set of triplets in Emma and Ivy Wallen. Both are sophomores. Additionally, Chatara Cox has been the Final Four Most Valuable Player the past two seasons.

At the Northwest Regional last weekend, Ivy hit the game-winner 3-pointer in overtime to edge Madison Academy, 61-58.

“They’re good,” Kinsaul said. “They’re real good. We feel like that we’re playing well, too. You’re going to be good if you’re going to amok it this far.”

Kinsaul said the Wallen guards have been playing since they were in eighth grade.

“Their mother was on the first state championship team at Lauderdale County,” he said. “So, they’ve been playing basketball for a long time. They’re two very intelligent and solid ball players.”

When asked what it’s going to take to stop them, Kinsaul didn’t hesitate when he said, “we’re not.”

“They’re going to get their points and get their shots,” he said. “We’re just going to have to score with them and hopefully they’re not shooting the ball well that day.”

Fortunately for the Lady Tigers (28-1), they have seen good players throughout the season. SHS enters the game on a 26-game win streak.

“We’ve faced good players all year,” Kinsaul said. “(Brantley junior forward) Amahni (Upshaw) is a good player. (Junior center) Tia (Fils-Aime’) is a good player at Daleville. We’re not going to do anything different. We’re just going to go up there and play hard.”

The Lady Tigers left yesterday morning for Birmingham as they did last year and went through a practice session in the afternoon.

Having played in the state tournament last year has helped the girls with their focus, Kinsaul said.

“It’s big,” the coach said about how much prior experience helps. “Last year, we were real happy to make it. This year, we’re more focused on the business-like approach. We know where to eat and where to sleep.

“We know what our routine is going to be,” he said. “We understand what we’re going to do. I’ve got a lot of confidence in these girls, and I feel like we’ll find a way to win.”

Kinsaul added that he hopes to see a big crowd at today’s game like the girls have seen all year.

“We’d like to see everybody who can make it be there,” he said. “The girls would like to see a lot of faces. I know that Lauderdale County’s going to bring a crowd. They’re going to fill probably half the Civic Center.

“We need as many people as we can there as well,” he said.