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Goshen

Class 3A Area 4

Eagles: (No. 2 seed) vs. Luverne Today at Calhoun. Tipoff 7 p.m.

Lady Eagles: (No. 3 seed) vs. Luverne Today at Calhoun. Tipoff 5 p.m.

By KEVIN PEARCEY

Sports Writer

If any boys basketball team in Pike County has a good chance to make it to Troy State and the AHSAA Southeastern Regionals it’s the Goshen Eagles.

Goshen has the talent and the depth to compete with any team in Class 3A and could probably play with some 5A or 6A schools given the chance. Freshman Kendaris Pelton is legit and will only get better, sophomore Averick Rogers is deadly accurate from the outside, and junior Jamar Tucker attacks the boards with abandon each trip down the floor. The bad news for opposing coaches is that they’ll all be back next season.

Tonight, though, the Eagles will go up against the Luverne Tigers for the third time this year. Goshen blasted Luverne in the first meeting 75-46, grabbing the Tigers by the neck in the first quarter and never letting go. In the second meeting Luverne surprised a few by hanging around for three quarters, before the Eagles went on a 23-9 tear in the final period and won 74-50.

Should the Eagles beat the Tigers tonight, they’ll face Calhoun on Tuesday night for the tournament championship.

And as the old saying goes, "Katie bar the door because you know they’re going to score."

The first match-up this season, which the Eagles lost 79-75, prepared know one for the second time the two schools tangled in Goshen on Jan.25th. Both teams scored points with such rapid-fire precision that they should have allowed the referee’s to get in a few shots, considering they were sweating about as much as the players. Goshen finally pulled away in the fourth quarter to win 93-79.

A loss to Luverne ends Goshen’s season. A loss to Calhoun in the title game and the Eagles will start sub-regional play on the road against the area 3 tournament champion. Should Goshen take the tournament title, they’ll be at home against the area 3 runner-up, either Elba, Clayton or Slocomb.

Keys to Victory: First things first, Goshen has to take care of Luverne. As Coach Lane said, "Anytime you play a team three times they know about you and what you can do." The problem for the Luverne Tigers is that they know Goshen can run them out of the gym as fast as it takes to put the ball in play. But the Eagles can’t come in overconfident, because if the shots aren’t falling for Rogers, Tucker, or Pelton, the Tigers could be in it for the duration.

Calhoun presents Goshen with a couple of problems. One, the Tigers are going to be playing on their home court. Two, well…these Tigers, unlike their Luverne counterparts, can flat out play. David Webb is explosive from both the inside and the outside and Antwan Gipson provides a lift off of the bench. The Tigers can match the Eagles athlete for athlete and like Goshen they like to run and press in the backcourt.

When Goshen lost to Calhoun in the first game, both Tucker and Pelton were on the bench early in the first half, each with three fouls. Without their presence on the floor, the Tigers built a ten point lead and held it for most of the second half before a failed Goshen rally, in the last minutes in the fourth, pulled the Eagles close. Both Tucker and Pelton have to stay out of foul trouble in order for Goshen to pull off the victory.

It has been a dismal season for Coach Dan Green and the Goshen girls team. The Lady Eagles have just one victory this season coming into tonight’s game against the Lady Tigers of Luverne. The good thing is that the Lady Eagles are a young team, with just two seniors, and are only going to get better in the coming years. Nikki Williams and LaKeshia Cope are names that Goshen faithful can look forward to remembering in the future.

One other good thing is that the Lady Eagles have another chance at Luverne, a team who has beaten the Lady Eagles both times they have played this year, but only by a combined total of eight points. A win tonight would put the Lady Eagles in the championship game Tuesday night to face off against area champ, the Calhoun Lady Tigers.

Oh boy.

Calhoun has been dominating teams this year, including Goshen beating the Lady Eagles in both regular season games by the combined score of 146-60. The Lady Tigers are in the top five of the AHSAA girls 3A poll and look to be a sure regional tournament bet.

Keys to Victory:Against Luverne, the Lady Eagles will have to limit the turnovers and stop Luverne’s one sure threat, forward April McDonald. Nikki Williams, one of Goshen’s top scorers, has to make her shots and Kayla Ellis has to be consistent on the inside.

If the Lady Eagles make it to Tuesday night, they’re going to have to play a flawless game and hope Calhoun can’t hit anything. Not a three, not a layup, nothing. Period. If the Lady Tigers just reach the 30 point mark, the game’s probably over. Without a doubt, were the Lady Eagles able to beat Calhoun it would be the biggest upset of the year in the state of Alabama.