“My kids are very excited about being here in Montgomery,” Sylacauga head coach Derrick Crawford said. “This team is very focused. They come in with a workman attitude. We had an outstanding practice today mentally going through every situation that we might see in that ball game tomorrow. These girls are excited and I am excited for them to go out tomorrow and play at a high level.”
Sylacauga (27-3) defeated Paul Bryant 58-40, to advance to the Central Regional finals. Florida State signee Shakayla Thomas scored 32 points and pulled down 14 rebounds. Kayla and Tierra Dark scored 12 and 10 point respectively in the win. This is the second year in a row that the Lady Aggies have advance to the Regional finals. Crawford said his team wasn’t satisfied with just winning on Tuesday.
“It is a one ball game season and it has been now for a few weeks and our kids take that approach because it could be over at any time,” Crawford said. “They are very focused right now, these kids are very focused, and they are hungry. They are not satisfied with just being down here. The other day when we won that ball game and I came in the locker room you could hear a pin drop. We win by 18 points and I walk in the dressing room after the press conference and these kids were focused. That told me that they just weren’t satisfied with winning that ball game. Whether you win by one or 25 this time of year it is a big thing. For these girls it wasn’t a big thing to them, they didn’t get over excited about it. They dressed in and went up there and watched Talladega boys and watched the Valley and Central Tuscaloosa game. If you had an opportunity to look in the stands those kids were focused on that ball game that was going on. I am telling the people of Sylacauga that this team is very focused. This is a team that could very easily go out tomorrow and put on a display at the same time we have a great ball game against a very worthy opponent because they are a very good basketball team. They are a well-coached team; they do a lot of good things offensively. Defensively, we are going to go at them. We have some good match ups. Tierra Dark will be on Matthews, which she played her last year and she did a great job last year of holding her in check. She wanted her again. Kiara Pope will be on Jada Prewitt. She is the point guard and she makes everything go, which she is on fire in the fourth quarter from the free throw line. We are going to match up and we are going to play and see what happens.”
Central Tuscaloosa (21-7) will look to get their second upset of the tournament today when they take on Sylacauga. The Lady Falcons defeated Valley 77-65 on Tuesday. Jerlissa Matthews scored 20 point and 14 rebounds in the win. Lawanda Maddix scored 17 points and 14 rebounds. Crawford said his team is focused on taking away what Matthews and Maddix like to do on offense. On the season, the Lady Aggies only allow 34 points per game this season.
“They had two of their guards that really got off,” Crawford said. “First of all Jerlissa Matthews, she was 6-22 yesterday. She is going to get a bulk of their shots. She is No.14; she is a very explosive athlete. She loves to dribble –drive and get to the basket. What we are going to try to do to her is make her a perimeter shooter and not let her dribble drive as much. She got to the rim many times in that ball game yesterday. She played about 25 minutes in that game and she is very explosive. In her freshman year she had a pretty good game against us. Last year, we held her to 10 points when we played them. Lawanda Maddix, that played against us. We held her pretty much in check last year. You can tell that she had a great off season. She also had 14 rebounds yesterday. My big concern is that our kids are going to have to do a great job of boxing out and not letting them dominate the boards. On Tuesday when we played, Paul Bryant got to many offensive rebounds. We have to do a great job of making sure we take those girls off the board. Those two girls are what make that team go. On the inside they have D’Leisha Dent is a player that we are very familiar with. She has played for three years also you have Shawntayla Harris has been there for three years. They have four girls that have regional tournament play against Sylacauga. I think it will be a great match up. We present them with some problems and they are going to present us with some problems too. They are such a great rebounding team, but at the same time it should be a great ball game. “