Only Indians stand in Goshen’s way

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 23, 2001

Sports Writer

The third ranked Goshen High School Eagles hope to continue its basketball championship crusade this afternoon when they return to the Port City to face the ninth ranked Southern Choctaw High School Indians in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 2A Boys Southwest Regional Finals. Tipoff is set for 3:40 p.m. at the Mitchell Center on the University of South Alabama campus in Mobile.

Goshen (22-2) reached the regional finals by earning wins over Highland Home (95-46) and Red Level (79-70) in the Area 2 tournament while outlasting Excel 64-49 in the sub-state game. On Tuesday

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morning in the regional semifinals, the Eagles overcame a furious second rally to down R.C. Hatch 79-70 to earn its first trip to regional finals since 1996 when Eagles reached the Final Four at the Southeast Regionals in Troy.

On the other hand, the Indians (23-8) defeated McIntosh and Excel (90-54) in the Area 1 Tournament championship game while pounding Red Level (69-48) in the subregion game. The Indians advanced to the regional final with a 66-59 victory over Keith Tuesday afternoon to set up the matchup with the Eagles.

Southern Choctaw, located in Silas near the Mississippi border, is well known for its recent success on the gridiron. In 1998 and ’99, the Indians put together back-to-back state championships before following in the second round to Straughn last year.

Likewise on the hardwood, the Indians are very quick, athletic, aggressive and physical despite not possessing much height with their tallest starter at 6-foot-1.

Goshen head basketball coach Major Lane said the Indians are expected to pose similar problems for the Eagles like R.C. Hatch did earlier this week.

"We must keep their perimeter game intact and not allow dribble penetration," Lane said. "They are a guard oriented team who try to run, trap and force turnovers. They will try to play man and zone in order to try to disguise their defenses."

Offensively, Lane said he expects the Indians to try to drive the ball to the basket forcing the Eagles into foul trouble. Sophomore guards Bernard and Terrell McGrew lead the Indians’ potent backcourt. The McGrew’s combined for 35 of Southern Choctaw’s 66 points in its win over Keith in the regional semifinals.

As far as the Eagles are concerned, Lane said GHS must get the ball inside and outside to get a good balance against Southern Choctaw’s changing defenses which means getting senior forward Jamar Tucker and sophomore Kendaris Pelton involved in the paint. Pelton scored 29 points against R.C. Hatch to lead all scorers for GHS.

Another thing Lane said the Eagles must do in order to be successful is continue to adjust their shots to the large depth perception of the 10,000 seat Mitchell Center.

"The depth is different, but we shot around for about 20 minutes because we played the first game (Tuesday morning)," Lane said. "The players adjusted well though because we’re used to winning."

Lane said he was also impressed with the crowd support despite Tuesday’s early tip time and is hoping Goshen fans will be able to make the trip to Mobile again this afternoon.