February fervorPublished 12:49pm Thursday, February 13, 2014
Five area hoops teams are set to try and punch their tickets to Alabama State University in Montgomery this coming weekend, but stiff tests await.
The Benjamin Russell Lady Wildcats, the Central-Coosa boys and girls, and the Dadeville boys and girls are each one win away from a trip to the Dunn-Oliver Acadome.
Below is a closer look at each match-up. The girls’ games are scheduled to be held Friday at 6 p.m., and the boys’ games are set to be played on Friday at 7 p.m.
BRHS girls at Sylacauga
The Lady Wildcats have one of the tougher draws in the Class 5A sub-regional round when they travel to face the 24-3 and Class 5A, No. 4 Sylacauga Lady Aggies.
With that comes the unenviable task of trying to slow down McDonald’s All-American and two-time reigning Class 5A Player of the Year Shakayla Thomas.
BRHS will counter that with its trifecta of seniors: Cookie Kelley, Aaliyah Lawson and Jernika Russell.
The Lady Wildcats claimed a berth in the sub-regional round by tearing through Booker T. Washington in the semifinals of the Class 5A-Area 5 tournament. However, the Wildcats were unable to top Class 5A, No. 3 Valley, losing 70-62 in the area tournament finals.
The Lady Aggies had an easier road, dominating Chilton County to the tune of 74-19 and defeating Talladega 56-42 to claim the Class 5A-Area 8 championship.
For BRHS, however, Sylacauga won’t be an unfamiliar opponent, as the teams have met twice this season.
However, The Lady Aggies won both contests, and while Sylacauga is far from a one-woman team, Thomas was the deciding factor in both games.
Sylacauga’s star player averaged 30 points and close to eight steals per game in the meetings.
She got some help from Kayla and Tierra Dark as well. Tierra averaged nearly 10 points and 10 assists per contest, while Kayla scored in double-figures in both outings.
Ultimately, the game will come down to how well the Lady Wildcats can contain Thomas on the offensive end while making sure their big three produce on both sides of the court. If this happens, the Lady Wildcats could pull the upset.
Dadeville boys vs. Tallassee
This battle of Tigers looks to be an intriguing one. Dadeville comes into the game fresh off two overtime wins – 57-48 versus Handley and 80-70 versus Beauregard – on its way to the Class 4A-Area 5 title.
On the flip side, Tallassee comes to Dadeville as Class 4A-Area 6 runner-up.
Tallassee, which at times plays better than what its 10-9 record would indicate, squeaked out a 49-47 win over Elmore County before running into a buzzsaw – also know as Class 4A powerhouse and No. 1 ranked Dallas County – in the area final, losing 75-30.
Both teams are stacked with athletes and good guard play, so the potential for a run-and-gun contest is in the air. It could come down to which respective team’s heart and soul – Dadeville’s Jay Foster and Tallassee’s DeAngelo Parker – has the bigger game.
Foster was the driving force behind Dadeville’s area tournament victory, however he ended the Beauregard game nicked up a little. There hasn’t been any indication pointing to Foster missing this contest.
Another tipping point to watch for in this game is the home Tigers’ mental state. On more than one occasion, Dadeville basketball coach Rodney Taylor said the team has lacked focus from time to time, with the lack of which usually manifesting itself in apathetic performances that ultimately resulted in bad losses for DHS.
However – as evidenced by their two wins versus Beauregard and defeats of Handley – Dadeville seems to play better when the game’s ramifications are significant. Given the sudden death nature of this one, it is as big as it can get at this point in the season.
Coosa boys at Midfield
As perhaps the toughest sub-regional draw out of all the local area teams, Central-Coosa will attempt to avenge last season’s sub-regional defeat at the hands of Midfield. While the names on the marquee are the same, things have changed for both teams.
For starters, Midfield enters the game as the No. 1 team in all of Class 3A and will have the benefit of home-court advantage. Last year, the Cougars came in as area champions but lost to the visiting Patriots 58-42.
In 2014, the Patriots are area champs and the Cougars have an upset on their mind.
In the Class 3A-Area 5 tournament Central-Coosa took down B.B. Comer 56-38, but lost a tight one to Trinity Presbyterian 50-46.
Midfield fired on all cylinders in the Class 3A-Area 8 tournament, bombarding Tarrant 103-41 and cruising to a 67-55 win over Leeds in the finals.
For the Cougars, they have to slow down the Patriots’ hydra, composed of Aaron Gaines, Ace Murry and J.T. Turner. Combined, this threesome averages more than 44 points per game, with each player accounting for at least 14 points a night.
The Cougars are loaded with gunners, as top scorer Quin Robbins along with Andrew Hammond, Tyus Maxwell and David McKinney can all knock down the long ball. However, outside of Robbins, there is inconsistency at the No. 2 scorer slot.
The Cougars will need all of their shooters to be locked and loaded if they want to leave Midfield with a win over one of the favorites to win the 3A championship.
Dadeville girls at Childersburg
A familiar face is waiting for the Dadeville Lady Tigers, although they are seeing it earlier in the state tournament that they did last year.
As Class 4A-Area 5 runner-up, Dadeville will take on Childersburg in sub-regional action. The last time these two teams met, Dadeville punched its ticket to the 2013 Class 4A Final Four, winning 42-41 in the Central Regional Final.
This year, both teams look very different. Dadeville will look to keep the pace frantic, as Janeisha Moss’ speed and passing ability can get other teams off balance, leaving her open to dump off assists to Hallie Cocx and Juzlyn Jones to finish at the basket, or to kick out passes to three-point specialists Araven Edwards and Laquashous Stowes.
For DHS girls basketball coach Mitch Joiner and Dadeville, consistency is key. While the team has a winning record, the season has been a bit up and down for the Lady Tigers.
At times, however, DHS has looked like the team that ran all the way to Birmingham last season. If Dadeville shows up on its A-game, they could take down Childersburg in a rematch.
Coosa girls at Midfield
Central-Coosa will get a double dose of Midfield in sub-regional action, as the Lady Cougars will test their mettle against the Class 3A No. 9 Midfield Lady Patriots.
Like their male counterparts, the Lady Cougars had an easy time of it in the Class 3A-Area 5 semifinals, dropping Thorsby 46-17.
Facing Trinity was a different story, as Central-Coosa lost 61-29 in the tournament final.
As for Midfield, it was smooth sailing in the Class 3A-Area 8 tournament. The Lady Patriots destroyed Leeds 97-28 and Tarrant 68-30 to claim the area crown.
Compared to 2013, the Lady Cougars have been a surprise this season, as the play of Malia Kelly and Shania Tuck has powered a vastly improved squad.
But taking on the Lady Patriots won’t be an easy task, and Central-Coosa needs big games from Kelly and Tuck if they want to make good on their plans of winning.