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Lady Tigers to face familiar foe in first round

Shakireyonna Rudolph and the GHS Lady Tigers will face the Sidney Lanier Poets once again, though this time with much higher stakes, in the first round of the area tournament Wednesday.

Shakireyonna Rudolph and the GHS Lady Tigers will face the Sidney Lanier Poets once again, though this time with much higher stakes, in the first round of the area tournament Wednesday.

The Greenville Lady Tigers will find a familiar foe today during the first round of the area tournament in the Sidney Lanier Poets.

The Lady Tigers are 2-0 versus the Poets this season, with their most decisive win occurring just last month with a 63-37 victory.

With Greenville coming off of a much-deserved weeklong rest, Greenville head girls basketball coach John Jones said that he expects a competitive game nonetheless from Lanier, and that they’re not a team to be looked over.

“They’re very, very tall.  They have two girls who are—by far—way taller than anybody that we have,” Jones said.

“At times, we were able to go with a small lineup and use our quickness to our advantage.  And other times, we went with a big lineup and matched up with them so that we could rebound.

“But the competition level was there.  They have some guards who can shoot.  And of course, their presence down low, with those girls being as tall as they are, always makes it difficult to rebound.  And they were able to get some offensive boards and some putbacks.  We really worked on boxing out, and making sure that we were able to clear the lane and keep the tall girls under control so that we could get the ball out and then push it up the floor.  We hoped to make them run and wear them out a bit.”

Greenville hasn’t tasted defeat often throughout the 2015-2016 season, but three of the team’s five losses have come in the past month at the hands of non-region opponents Luverne and Calhoun, as well as the No. 1-seed Brewbaker Tech.

Despite the losses, the Lady Tigers finished the regular season strong with a convincing win over the neighboring Georgiana Lady Panthers.

For Jones, the non-region win was every bit as important, if only for the sake of momentum.

“It was definitely important,” Jones said.

“We needed a confidence builder.  Like I said, it was one of our best games in the last few weeks. We really needed it to protect our home court.  We really harp on the fact that this is our gym, and we really have to protect it and be tough to beat here.”

But one of the biggest goals that Jones is hoping to accomplish, aside from a state championship, is that his players have fun along the road to the title.

“We talked about it at halftime—what are we doing to make this so much more enjoyable?” Jones said.

“When you’re doing things and everybody’s being successful on the floor, that makes it fun for everybody, and they feed off each other.  It’s good to have that momentum going in.

“It’s a big factor, because it’s a grind.  It’s tough on them, and it’s tough to coach.  You’ve got to be creative and find ways to get them interested and motivated.  The season’s long, and you have the Christmas break in the middle of it.  It can be somewhat drug out.  But when they’re having fun playing in front of our fans and everybody’s being successful, it puts a smile on their face and it makes them play even harder.”