“We have been tenacious on defense this year,” Crawford said. “Finally these young girls have really bought in to our concept on the defensive end and if we are going to have a chance to be the team that we think we can be they realize that we have to be really strong on defensively. Offensively, I feel like we can score some points, but defensively we can take breaks and leave girls open for uncontested shots and uncontested run outs. For the most part this team has really done a fine job of contesting shots and not allowing teams to get out and get easy baskets on run outs. This group is hungry and we are focused. We are focused on the task that we have in front of us for tomorrow night game. Come 7 p.m. we are going to line up and tip off and we are going to see what’s going to happen.”
Ben Russell enters tonight game looking to rebound from a 70-62 defeat to third ranked Valley in the Class 5A Area 5 finals. The Lady Wildcats are 0-2 this season. Sylacauga won the first match 59-43 and they won the second match up 65-51 in January. Crawford said both matchup have been exciting games and he expects this game to be a battle.
“They are an outstanding basketball team,” Crawford said.” We had an opportunity to play them two games. We played them the third game of the season and we played them right when we came back from Christmas on Jan 13. Both times they were exciting basketball games. Coach Hines has done a great job filling for the coach that they had last year. She has done a great job with these kids molding them. It will be a war come tomorrow night here. We will have to do a great job slowing the point guard down (Chloe Owens). The two games we have done a great job on her. Also Aaliya Lawson No. 11 has led them in scoring the last two times that we played them, so we will have to do a much better job containing her and makings sure that she does get open looks. Also she is an outstanding free throw shooter and we have to make sure that she doesn’t get to the line on tomorrow. They present a problem inside with Jernika Russell, she is the big girl. She is about 6-feet tall, she is a three-year starter and she is a senior. They are senior heavy. We will have to keep her off the boards and make her earn hers in the ball game tomorrow. They have another post player Kelly that has played exceptionally well in the two ball game we played. She has been in double figures in both ball games. They present problems; they have outstanding basketball players that present different problems. Our kids know what we have to do and I think we will be up to the challenge.”
The Lady Aggies (24-3) defeated Talladega to win their third straight Class 5A Area 8 title. Crawford said he really likes the way his team is playing right now on both ends of the court.
“We are playing pretty good right now,” Crawford said. “We went through the area this year building toward this ball game in particular. We have a lot of different things that we can throw at them offensively with this group of kids that we have along with Kiara Pope, Tainiya Garrett, Kayla Dark, Tierra Dark and Shakayla (Thomas). Those five girls have really played well with Destiny Wilson coming off the bench with Bri’Asia Richardson we can do some things. I like this team; if they continue to take a one game approach like we have started since the end of regular season, this thing could be fun. I like this team; we have talked about it time and time again. We do some things really well: we run the break extremely well, we play pretty good defense. This team only gives up 34.3 points per game and we are averaging 61 points per game. Defensively, we are right where we need to be at this point in time in the season. We had a few days because of the weather maybe it won’t affect us at least we hope it won’t affect this team. Personally I don’t think so, but early on we will be able to tell how these practice cancelations affected us somewhat. They are going to go out and play hard for 32 minutes if we do that I think we will be successful. We have the opportunity to celebrate after the ball game if we can contain those players. “