Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.|
Hartselle' Emily Roden pressures Athens guard Jenae Strong during their Class 5A sub-regional in Athens on Thursday night. Hartselle won 70-49.
3rd-ranked Lady Tigers roll
through 4th-ranked Athens
By Brooke Milam
firstname.lastname@example.org · 340-2460
ATHENS — A rivalry game between top teams with season-ending implications — when the fourth-ranked Athens High girls basketball team hosted third-ranked Hartselle in a Class 5A sub-regional game Thursday night, it had the makings of a classic down-to-the-wire battle.
But forced to travel for the sub-regional round after losing to Brewer in the area finals, the Lady Tigers had their own idea of how the game should go.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.|
Hartselle guard Anna Reeves, right, gives the official a hard look as Athens High guard Courtney Medlen stays in her face before an inbound play during a sub-regional game in Athens on Thursday night.
"After area we had a wake up call," Hartselle senior Lauren Drake said. "Losing the area, that stung. We knew coming here it'd be a gritty battle and we wanted to come over here and make a statement."
Hartselle grabbed control early in the contest and never lost its grip, rolling over Athens 70-49 to advance to the Northwest Regionals for the third straight year.
Hartselle (26-6) will play Pleasant Grove on Tuesday at noon at Wallace State-Hanceville. Pleasant Grove advanced with a 41-36 overtime win over Curry.
Hartselle's romp of the Lady Golden Eagles (26-4) was a contest that even Athens coach Eddie Murphree thought would be closer.
Murphree noted that his team hadn't been forced to play from behind much this season, but neither had Hartselle.
"I think Hartselle showed their strength and power and I wish them luck," Murphree said. "But whatever happened tonight is not going to take away from this season or the bond this team possesses, and it can't change what these five seniors (Courtney Medlen, Keona Shoulders, Mikia Redus, Brittany Hovell and Sierra Caudle) mean to me and our staff."
Hartselle held a 16-13 lead after the first quarter, but dominated the second quarter, outscoring Athens 24-13 to build a double-digit advantage.
Hartselle led 40-26 at halftime and stayed in control, scoring the first six points after the break to increase its lead to a 20-point margin.
"First of all, we tried to put pressure on Medlen, and we were trying to keep Shoulders from catching it," Hartselle coach Greg Adams said. "In the past, we'd made the mistake of trying to defend (Shoulders) after she catches it, and it hadn't worked for us."
Hartselle's defense had a lock on Athens' usual high scorers, holding Medlen scoreless, while Shoulders had seven points at halftime and finished with 16.
The Lady Tigers led by as many as 26 points in the third quarter and were ahead
60-40 heading into the final period.
And while the Lady Tigers' full-court press frustrated the Lady Golden Eagles, Hartselle was just as intense on
Adams said the Lady
Tigers entered the game knowing they could count on Drake, who had 14 points and eight rebounds at halftime and finished with a game-leading 20 points and 14 boards.
"As far as post players go, she's as good as any around and she does a lot of our creating," Adams said. "So that was our plan."
Mary Virginia Reeves added 15 points and eight rebounds for Hartselle.
Jessica Andrews contributed 14 points and two steals.
Athens' LaCresha Horton scored 11 points.
Teammates Jenae Strong and Sierra Caudle each scored 10.
"This is a big rivalry and a good win for us to get ourconfidence back," Drake said.
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