Too much Faith:

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 17, 2002

Top-ranked Lady Rams win third straight title 52-38,

PLAS girls end season with 23-6 record


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Sports Editor

Pike Liberal Arts School head coach Robert Hawkins knew coming into Saturday’s Class AAA championship game against No. 1 Faith that two things had to happen:

PLAS couldn’t allow Faith to get hot from the outside and his seventh-ranked Lady Patriots had to shoot way better then Friday’s semifinal 33-30 win over Tuscaloosa Academy.

Pike had shot only 28 percent from the field against the Lady Knights.

"We were just hoping they (Faith) weren’t hitting their outside shots because we knew we had to take one of them away," Hawkins said. "But we really weren’t hitting ours and we knew we couldn’t post up on them."

Faith got 21 points in the paint from Kelli Manning and 12 points from the outside by Scherette Lewis as the Lady Rams claimed their third straight state championship, 52-38, and finished the season a perfect 27-0.

Pike Lib concluded the year 23-6.

The day before, PLAS had used the last second heroics of sophomore Karli Tribe to advance to the title game. Tribe knocked down a 12-footer with under 30 seconds to play against Tuscaloosa Academy and Lindy Lunkenheimer’s two foul shots with five seconds remaining sent Pike to its first state title game ever.

But late in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game, it was clear there wouldn’t be any last second victory shots. Faith went up 45-29 to open the final period of play.

The Lady Patriots fought back with a 7-2 run, capped off by a Beth Anderson steal and layup.

However, by then Faith’s lead was insurmountable and there wasn’t enough time left on the clock for another such run.

Anderson finished with 18 points in the game. Lunkenheimer had eight points, as did forward Rae Pinckard. Pinckard also pulled down 10 rebounds.

"We never quit," said Hawkins. "We knew were the big underdogs, but I thought we were pretty relaxed coming into the game."

The Lady Rams took an 8-0 lead early in the first quarter.

PLAS battled back, though. Lunkenheimer hit a three-pointer and Anderson connected on two free throws to pull the Lady Patriots close at the end of the opening quarter, 15-12.

Faith responded with seven straight points to start the second. The Lady Rams outscored Pike Lib 14-6 in the quarter as Manning and fellow forward Nicole Thomas went to work inside.

Hawkins knew Faith’s frontcourt would be hard to stop.

"They’re real mobile and have a good shot," he said. "They also don’t miss free throws."

Anderson could muster Pike’s only points of the second quarter, all six coming off three-point shots.

PLAS cut Faith’s advantage to just seven points in the third quarter as another Anderson three-pointer cut the Lady Rams’ lead to 35-28 with 3:11 remaining.

Pike Lib then held Faith scoreless and had three straight offensive possessions with a chance to pull closer, but couldn’t get any shots to fall.

Thomas and Manning closed the third with two straight baskets for Faith.