Despite losing to Beulah twice during the regular season, Dadeville’s girls basketball team had nothing to fear Wednesday night during the Class 3A Area 7 championship.
The Tigers knew they could beat Beulah; they did it last year in the same game in triple overtime. But this season, they didn’t want to leave any doubt. Dadeville stormed out to a huge lead and although Beulah punched back in the second half, the Tigers held it off for a 46-33 victory.
“It feels great and it’s good for the kids; I’m proud of them,” Dadeville coach Pam Holloway said. “To me, it’s more about those little things that people don’t understand that goes further than basketball. They’ve learned to come together as a group, work together and do things outside of basketball that translate on the court. That’s the big thing for me is for them to learn those life lessons.”
All season long, Holloway has been preaching intensity and that’s exactly what the Tigers (10-12) showed Wednesday. They came out firing on all cylinders and led 13-1 after the first quarter. They led by as many as 15 points before Beulah got its first field goal and they never let up, taking a 22-7 lead into halftime.
“The effort and intensity was just a lot better,” Holloway said. “What I saw in this team early on, we kinda got away from that and didn’t remain consistent with that. But we got back to it (Wednesday night) and I just hope we can continue to be as aggressive as we continue play.”
Defensively, the Tigers hustled all over the floor and although Beulah got several shots, it had trouble getting good looks at the basket. And when the Bobcats’ shots didn’t fall, Dadeville was there to scoop up the rebound.
“We got back a lot better,” Holloway said. “That’s been an issue for us letting teams beat us back, and we didn’t let up (Wednesday night). We made sure we got back. A lot of time we didn’t get back in time to stop them from getting the shot off but we were there to get the ball back and do the little things in transition.”
Nhylee Banks led the offense with 20 points while D’Asia Caldwell added 14. Caldwell was named the tournament MVP while Banks, Ka’Niyah Wilkerson and Layla Grace were all named to the all-tournament team.
Coaches always say it’s difficult to beat a team three times, and Dadeville proved that to the Bobcats. Holloway said there’s a lot of different factors that go into that, but the biggest thing is the amount of improvements the Tigers have made throughout the season.
“Both teams are improving and you’re getting different experiences to where when you meet a team one time that’s not going to be the same team you face again,” Holloway said. “You can’t be in that mindset to think that you’re going to be playing the same team regardless of whether you’ve been on the top or you’re the underdog.”
With the victory, Dadeville secured home-court advantage in the sub-regionals. The Tigers will host the loser of the Pike Road-Montgomery Academy game, which will be played tonight. The sub-regionals will be played at 7 p.m. Monday.
“It’s a good feeling,” Holloway said. “It’s always a plus to be able to have that opportunity to play at home. It’s not so much in your favor, but having that opportunity is a big help.”