“My girls get a lot of fuel from the fans,” he said. “When the fans are consistently loving those girls and cheering them on, they perform at their optimum peak. When you have everything going for you, no matter if you’re winning or losing, those girls are going to give their best and they’re going to give it back to each other when they have all their fans pulling for them all at one time.”
While Notasulga and Winterboro were nominated for the ASWA’s final regular season poll, both fell just outside of the top 10 rankings. Winterboro currently holds a 27-3 record, having just successfully won their third straight Area championship. Notasulga currently holds an overall record of 17-8. They lost to Loachapoka in their area final, 62-40.
Almost two weeks ago, Winterboro lost to Notasulga on the road by a score of 64-49. But Smith sees it as a second opportunity for his team.
“It’s a huge advantage because we played them at their place earlier this year,” he said. “A philosophy of mine is that whenever we’re trying to get to the Final Four, if we’re going to lose to a team, I’d rather lose to them at their place. It’s just difficult to play on the road. I thought we had a lot of road success. At the beginning of the year, 11 of our first 12 wins were all on the road. So, when we went down there and didn’t play to my expectations, it really bothered me a whole lot. Sometimes, you just have to go through things like that and see how the team can respond if they have that chance again and there’s a chance coming up on Thursday.”
Winterboro is coming off a dominating 49-29 win over their rival TC Central. With Notasulga being their only non-tournament loss all season, Smith thinks his team has more than enough motivation to win the game.
However, if avenging that loss wasn’t enough motivation, Smith and his team would like to beat Notasulga because it’s the school where Smith graduated high school.
“I think my girls will be motivated because that’s my alma mater,” he said. “My girls are motivated because they want to give a better showing than they did last time. My girls have something to prove. There’s more on the line this time around. We play Notasulga every summer anyway, but right now, we’re 0-1 against them in the regular season. I think my girls are motivated for those two reason right there. They’re driven. Right now, they’re becoming a very driven group. In the win on Saturday, they looked real good. So, I like my chances on Thursday.”