Lady Bears advance to regional finalPublished 3:29pm Thursday, February 24, 2011
That’s all Edward Bell head coach Nancy Shealey could say after her Lady Bears took control of Thursday’s Central Regional Tournament game with Holy Spirit in the fourth quarter and ran away with a 58-53 win.
“It feels good to finally get over the hump after five years,” Shealey said.
Edward Bell is no stranger to the regional tournament, but Thursday was the first time the Lady Bears have not been one and done. They will meet Akron (24-4), which defeated Winterboro 72-54, on Saturday at 10 a.m. to try and earn a trip to the Final Four in Birmingham.
In what was a tight game throughout, Edward Bell trailed for the majority of play until about midway through the third quarter.
Down 36-31, the Lady Bears got buckets from Araven Edwards, Kierra Billingsley and Janeisha Moss to grab a 37-36 edge with 3:45 to go. The Lady Titans briefly regained the lead, but Moss and Natalie Copeland scored in the last 1:30 to give the Lady Bears a 41-40 advantage entering the fourth.
Kaitlyn Taylor, who led all scorers with 25, put Holy Spirit on top with a basket at the 6:50 mark, but Edward Bell held the Lady Titans without a field goal for the next 4:45 with a high-pressure, full-court defense and built a six-point lead in the process with the help of a three-point play from Ca’Neshia Smith and field goals from Moss and Desharte Edwards.
“I think defense was the key,” Shealey said. “We started off kind of slow, but in the fourth quarter we knew we had to pour a little ‘D’ on and that’s what helped us.”
After Rachel Taylor scored for Holy Spirit with 2:05 remaining to end her team’s drought, Smith answered with 1:41 left and Edwards scored on back-to-back possessions to make the score 54-44 and essentially seal the win.
Billingsley drilled two first-quarter 3-pointers, but Edward Bell trailed 14-11 because of Kaitlyn Taylor’s hot shooting, as she connected on her first six shots from the field.
Smith hit a lay-up and four straight free throws to give the Lady Bears a 17-16 lead with 5:23 left in the first half, but Edward Bell later committed three straight turnovers that led to points and Holy Spirit led 30-25 at halftime.
Natalie Copeland paced Edward Bell (21-4) with 14 points and nine rebounds. Billingsley had 13, Smith had 11 and Moss chipped in 10. Edwards closed with eight points and nine boards.
Tamara Giles scored 10 and was the only other player in double figures for Holy Spirit (24-8).
With the future of Edward Bell’s school uncertain, Shealey hopes the players can create a bright spot for Camp Hill.
“We’re just trying to play for pride,” Shealey said. “It’s still up in the air about the school closing, but if it closes, (the players) can look back and say, ‘Hey, we did something for this school.’”