State bound!

Published 11:32 pm Friday, February 5, 2010

A region championship was on the line Friday afternoon in Montgomery against two rivals.

And in the end, it was the team from Pike County that was crowned the champion.

The Pike Liberal Arts girls’ varsity squad was able to best the Warriors of Lee-Scott, 48-38, in the AISA AAA Region 1 championship game Friday afternoon in Montgomery.

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“It’s exciting,” head coach Steven Kilcrease said following the win.

“We finally were able to get the monkey off our back. We have had some trouble with Lee-Scott the past couple of years.

“I am proud of them – they played well,” he added.

The Patriots were able to get off to a hot start, leading the Warriors by nine points after the first quarter, however, Lee-Scott would take a two-point lead at 27-25 at the half.

That would be all PLAS would allow, as the team held the opposition to just two points in the third, before strolling to the 10-point win.

“It’s nice to get the region championship – but this team has set higher goals than that for this season,” Kilcrease said.

The win brought the girls’ overall record to 15-4 as the Patriots now set their sights on the AISA State Tournament.

“This team is played well at the right time, which is always important.

“The girls really have been getting better and better since Christmas. The team has been shooting and rebounding well. I couldn’t ask for anything better right now,” the coach said.

Eady Pinkard and Rebecca Farrar each scored 17 points as well as 12 rebounds.

Farrar was named Tournament MVP, while Pinkard and Anna Saunders were named to the All-Tournament team.

The girls’ next game will take place on Friday, Jan. 19 in the first round of the AISA State Tournament, which will be held at Faulkner University.

Just like the girls, the boys from PLAS were a victory, however theirs came in a much more drastic approach.

With two-tenths of a second remaining in the fourth quarter, Nick McLaughlin hit a jumper that put the Patriots past the Eagles of Fort Dale, 41-40, and in the process secure a No. 3 seed for the upcoming state tournament.

“Nick had a good game for us tonight,” head coach Mike Barbaree said.

“He really stepped up and took control inside for us.”

The win did not come without some loss though as the Patriots lost senior Justin McLaughlin to injury early in the game.

His teammates would step up in his absence.

Nick scored 20 points in the win, 16 of which came in the second half, including 10 fourth quarter points and while Stewart Pinkard added eight points and 12 rebounds.

“Stewart played a great game for us,” Barbaree said.

“When Justin got hurt, he moved down to the post and really helped us out.”

At one point, the Patriots trailed the Eagles by 11 points, however, the team would not give up.

“We played hard the entire game.

“Even with the loss [on Thursday], I thought we played hard for 32 minutes – and I think that carried over into [Friday’s] game,” he said.

The coach continued by saying the win is definitely a relief for him and his team.

“We were really trying to avoid the fourth seed. And with the third seed, we feel like we have a better match up for the [AISA State Tournament],” he said.

Going into the tournament, Barbaree believes his team will be ready to play.

“I think this is a confidence booster for us,” the coach said.

“We had been on a little bit of a bad run lately and our confidence level was down.

“But we had to play hard and we did.

“This win is something I think that will carry over in [the state tournament],” he added.