Lady Tigers to square off for area title

Published 5:13 pm Friday, February 12, 2016

The Greenville girls varsity basketball team will be playing in their second area championship in four years against the formidable Brewbaker Tech Lady Rams following a 48-34 win over Sidney Lanier in the first round.

The Lady Tigers were off to a sluggish start in the first half, though both teams struggled to find a rhythm as Greenville closed the half with a narrow 4-point lead.

But in the locker room, Greenville head girls basketball coach John Jones said something clicked in his players.

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“We challenged each other and we came out in the first 3 minutes of the 3rd quarter and separated ourselves, and we were able to make a little run,” Jones said.

Sophomore Adrienna Taylor provided the spark offensively and defensively for Greenville, earning a crucial pair of takeaways and draining a 3-pointers that reenergized the Lady Tigers.

“It really started on the defensive end,” Jones added.  “We brought a lot of energy and a lot of effort, and we got some takeaways and some easy buckets on the other end.  And that kind of put us in a rhythm to get most of our points in the second half.”

Senior captain Shakireyonna Rudolph spread the love with excellent ball movement, earning a heap of assists along with an 18-point night to reignite the Lady Tigers’ offense in the second half.

The improved ball movement was one upside of the week-long break full of practice between the first-round match and the team’s final regular season game with Georgiana.

But the break proved a double-edged sword in some ways, as Greenville’s rest came with an added dose of rust.

“Our last game was against Georgiana, which seemed like a month ago,” Jones said.

“We went over a week without playing a game, and it showed.  You can practice all day, but it’s just different in a game.  But credit to Lanier—they came out with a lot of energy and they really wanted the game, and we just had to match that in the second half.  They kind of showed us that they were there to win the game.”

The Lady Tigers’ next opponent, Brewbaker Tech, won’t give the Lady Tigers any time to knock the rust off, however.

The team has gotten the better of Greenville twice on each of their previous meetings this season, and Jones expects an equally challenging game in the third outing.

“They’ve really separated themselves as the head of the pack in the area,” Jones said.

“They have some tall girls at all five positions, and they’ve played together for a while and they play well as a team.  It’s going to be a big challenge for us.”

And that experience is one area that Brewbaker Tech has a decided advantage over the young Lady Tigers team.

But the area championship game against the Lady Rams is a valuable experience in its own right.

“Our two seniors have been on the rollercoaster ride all four years,” Jones said. “They’ve been in the playoffs before, so they know what it’s like.  But the girls here have never made it to Dothan. In their four years here, they’ve never won an area championship.  They’ve played in a championship game, but they’ve never won it.

“Our team is so young with 10th graders and 9th graders that we’re just asking them to live in the moment and not let the game or the stage be too big and keep them from playing their game.  That’s something that Brew Tech has, that experience.”

The Lady Tigers will square off against the hosting Lady Rams tonight, with subregionals beginning for the team on Monday.