Lady Patriots finished
There was a battle waged at the free throw line Friday afternoon at Huntingdon College in Montgomery in the AISA Class 3A Final Four.
The No. 5 Pike Liberal Arts Lady Patriots (17-10) went 10-for-12 from the charity stripe in the first half, but 0-for-2 in the second half of a 42-36 loss to the No. 1 Lee-Scott Lady Warriors (27-2) Friday.
Lee-Scott went 3-for-8 in the first half, but 7-for-9 in the second half to seal the game.
“Our game plan was to be aggressive and to attack,” PLAS head coach Steven Kilcrease said. “We were in attack mode in the first half, but we weren’t in attack mode in the second half. We weren’t trying to go by them. And when they are up there defending us like they do and you don’t attack you are going to get beat. We were too passive and you can’t be passive against that group there.”
The Lady Warriors did most of the damage in the third quarter, when they outscored Pike Liberal 15-2 to take a 29-22 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“We talked about it at halftime,” Kilcrease said. “We knew they were going to come out and pick up their intensity and we didn’t do a good job managing that.”
In the first half the Lady Patriots surprised Lee-Scott with defensive pressure and they bumped the Lady Warriors out of their rhythm early on. They also drove hard to the basket and drew 12 fouls in the half. PLAS led 20-14 at halftime.
“I thought our girls did a great job executing the game plan in the first half,” Kilcrease said. “We missed some shots in the first half, but we couldn’t have been in a better position than we were at halftime. We had done the things we had talked about, but we reverted back to our old selves in the second half mainly in the third quarter.”
The Lady Warriors came out as the aggressor in the second half and never looked back.
“You have to be the aggressor and take advantage of their aggressiveness and we didn’t do it in the second half and that was the difference.”
“That is a scrappy group and they got after us and we didn’t settle down when we needed to,” Kilcrease said. “We outscored them in the second quarter, the first quarter was even and then we scored two points in the third quarter and that was the ball game.”
The Lady Patriots actually outscored Lee-Scott 14-13 in the fourth quarter, but it was too little too late for Pike.
Fresh off a 40-point performance in the Elite Eight, Lee-Scott’s Jessica Washington was quiet for most of the night. The Lee-Scott guard was 3-of-16 from the field on the evening and scored only 13 points. But she came alive when her team needed her most, as she hit the three-pointer that gave Lee-Scott the lead in the third quarter and she nailed two free throws with 34 seconds left in the game that gave the Lady Warriors at 40-36 lead.
“We said going in if we could hold her to 15 points we would feel good about it,” Kilcrease said. “We did that, but you are not going to keep her scoreless.”
According to Kilcrease, the difference in the game was in the paint. Lee-Scott outscored Pike 18-14 in the paint and the Lady Patriots had the size advantage inside.
“The difference as far as scoring was in the paint,” he said. “They had three girls off the bench who outscored inside. That is not just our post players because we didn’t get them the ball and we weren’t working to get them the ball.”
Kilcrease said the answer to getting back to the Final Four and pushing into the championship is something the Lady Patriots can achieve, but there is something that is needed first.
“This game wasn’t lost this week, this game was lost in the last 365 days,” Kilcrease said. “We have to work in the offseason and we didn’t work this past offseason and that bunch (Lee-Scott) did. They lived in the gym. You can’t set the basketball down in February and pick it back up in October and expect to be any better.”
Kilcrease said he would wait and see what his team is made of this offseason.
“We will see what kind of bunch we have coming back,” he said. “We will lose Mary Vance (Ventress) and we will miss her, but we have a lot coming back. We will see how bad they want it.”
Josie Griffin led the Lady Patriots with 16 points. Rebecca Farrar added 10 points. Anna Saunders chipped in four points and Eady Pinckard, Katie Wiggins and Kelly Cash had two points apiece.
Melissa Maddox led Lee-Scott with 14 points, Washington had 13 points and Olivia Maddox chipped in six points.
Click here for a photo gallery of Friday’s action