It’s always tough to go into a game not knowing much about the opponent, especially in a game that means so much, but that’s the nature of the postseason.
Both Reeltown’s girls and Dadeville’s boys are heading to Garrett Coliseum for Class 2A and 3A regional semifinal matchups, respectively. The Rebels will take on Geneva County at 3 p.m. today while Dadeville faces Providence Christian at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
“It really doesn’t bother me too much we don’t know much about them,” Dadeville coach Jesse Foster said. “If we play like we are capable of playing, they are going to have to make the adjustments. I just focus on my team.”
Both the Rebels and the Tigers have an idea of what they are walking into, but it’s not a very clear one.
Reeltown’s opponent, Geneva County, is led by Karoline Striplin, a junior who recently committed to Tennessee. She is averaging 21.7 points and 13.6 rebounds per game; she also averages 5.7 blocks per game and more than three steals and three assists per game.
The Bulldogs, who finished at No. 4 in the Alabama Sports Writers Association Class 2A rankings, have a high-flying offense. Jordyn Alston, Charlianna Boutwell and Anri Davis have all contributed more than 8.7 points per game as Geneva County is averaging nearly 60 as a team.
But if there’s one thing Reeltown has focused on all season long, it’s defense and that hasn’t changed in preparation for the Bulldogs this week.
“We’re going to have to defend all areas of the court,” Reeltown coach Will Solomon said. “They’re a well-rounded team. They shoot the ball well and they have a really good inside game. It’s not like we’re going to be able to keep the ball from getting inside only; we’re going to have to close out on their shooters. We need to communicate well.”
Although it’s been quite some time since the Rebels have been to regionals, Solomon is hoping Reeltown’s team chemistry and its overall experience will help guide it through any potentially murky waters.
“I think with our senior leadership, the way we look at it is we have to focus on playing the next team,” Solomon said. “We don’t worry about the venue or the playoff situation. When you put the focus on just preparing yourself to play, I don’t think you have time to think about anything else.”
One thing Reeltown definitely has going for it is its will to win. Many coaches say sometimes it’s just about finding a way to win, and the Rebels have proved they’re more than capable of doing just that.
“We have got young ladies that have a lot of floor time,” Solomon said. “They’ve been down before and battled back and lost, and they’ve been down before and battled back and won. We also have a team attitude; 15 out of 15 of us are all pulling together. I’m a big believer in that. When you know your teammates are trying as hard as they can, it gives you a will to win.”
Like the Rebels, Dadeville’s boys team has gotten a few scares lately. Randolph County played the Tigers extremely hard during the area championship and Bullock County nearly pulled off a big comeback in the sub-regionals. But like Reeltown, the Tigers found a way to win.
Dadeville has proven it can win in a variety of ways. When it needs to score a lot and run the floor, it does that extremely well. But if it needs to grind out a slow-churning victory, Dadeville seems comfortable in that situation too.
However, Foster said after watching one film of Providence Christian’s, he thinks the Tigers’ best strategy Saturday will be to use their quick game and athleticism to their advantage.
“(Providence Christian) is fundamentally sound and they aren’t going to beat themselves,” Foster said. “We have to take care of the ball and just be really aggressive. I think we are more athletic than them, so we need to use our athleticism. I don’t think they’re used to playing that fast and getting up and down like we do and pressing like we do.”
The Eagles do boast height inside as Jackson Colley stands at 6-foot-4 and all but two players on the roster are over 5-foot-10. However, PJ Eason and Jamauri Chislom have both been forces on the boards lately, and Foster said it’s going to take an entire team effort to keep the Tigers’ playoff run going.