Down to four

Published 9:00 pm Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Despite a lengthy delay between games, the Pike Liberal Arts School girls’ varsity basketball team is still headed to where it hoped it would be at this point in the season – the AISA Final Four.

Thanks to the Patriots’ 47-29 win over the Prattville Christian Academy Panthers, the team will make its second-straight appearance as one of the four remaining teams.

“It feels pretty good,” head coach Steven Kilcrease said following the team’s win.

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“We still have a lot of work to do, obviously, if we want to win this thing. We cannot play like we did against some of the team left.”

There was only one lead change in the game, which took place less than a minute into the game, when the Panthers took a two-point lead.

The Patriots would gain the lead however, and never look back.

After one quarter of play, PLAS led by six, at 13-7 and throughout the second quarter, the team continued to build on the lead thanks to the play of seniors Eady Pinckard and Anna Sanders.

The Patriots had an 11-point lead at the half, with Pinckard and Saunders contributing for more than half of the team’s points, at seven and six.

In the third quarter, the Panthers made their push to get back in the game, and thanks to a 7-4 run, were able to do so and in the process cutting the Patriots’ lead to 27-19.

“To me, we didn’t play good defense,” the coach said.

“We allowed too many open shots and couldn’t break their press, especially in the third quarter.”

But that would be the closest PAC would get.

The Patriot offense was sparked by Josie Griffin, who came off the bench to hit two 3-pointers pushing the lead back to double-digits and helping the team finish out the quarter on a 12-0 run.

By the fourth quarter, the Patriots had the win all but secured, as the team led by 22 with a little over three minutes remaining, before winning by 18.

“I thought we hit a couple of big shots in the third quarter that allowed us to extend the lead.

“We have a couple of girls that are able to hit those kinds of shots – which is always a good thing,” Kilcrease said.

This was team’s 10th straight win.

Pinckard led the Patriots in both offense and on the boards, as she finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.

Rebecca Farrar, Katie Wiggins, and Sanders all finished with 10 points apiece.

Farrar finished with eight rebounds as well.

PLAS shot just 30 percent from the floor, hitting 17 of its 55 shots, but was able to turn 22 PAC turnovers into 18 points and also had 22 points in the paint.

“Coming in, I thought we were the better team, but [Prattville Christian] played tough all throughout the game,” the coach said.

“We were able to get out to a nice lead late the game, which always helps.”

The Patriots’ next game will be on Friday at 1 p.m. at Huntingdon College against a team they are quite familiar with – the Eagles of Fort Dale.

“The last time we played, it was a little lopsided, but I am not expecting that,” Kilcrease said.

This will be the fourth time the two teams have met this season, with the Patriots winning the last three games, after falling in the first matchup.

Before beating the Eagles 35-18 in the AISA AAA Region 1 tournament, five points was the only difference in the first two games, as PLAS won 41-37 and Fort Dale won 40-39.

“It’s always a pretty close game between these two teams,” Kilcrease said.

“And I expect the same kind of game come Friday.”