Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.|
Notasulga guard Quantessia Young struggles to find help against Hazlewood's swarming defenders, from left, Amber Jones, Lachara Reedus and Chasitey Garner during the Class 1A state semifinals action in Birmingham on Tuesday.
Hazlewood girls force 47
turnovers, run to easy victory
By Brooke Milam
firstname.lastname@example.org · 340-2460
BIRMINGHAM — The Notasulga Lady Blue Devils had been successful this season with a running game that few could match. Not only did Notasulga meets its match playing Hazlewood in the Class 1A semifinals Tuesday, the Lady Golden Bears took a 70-46 win by beating the Lady Blue Devils at their own game.
"Every team we'd played up until today, we just tried to wear them out," Notasulga coach Roland Bell said. "We knew we wouldn't be able to wear (Hazlewood) out. We hoped they wouldn't like being pressed, but they were ready for our press."
Hazlewood advanced to the Class 1A state championship game for the third straight year and will play the defending champion McIntosh in the finals Friday at 4 p.m. at Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. McIntosh defeated Spring Garden 64-45 in the other semifinal match Tuesday. In last year's finals, McIntosh whipped Hazlewood 105-59.
"We don't have to be the best team down here," Hazlewood coach Darin Liles said. "All we have to do is play the best 32 minutes on Friday, and if the good Lord smiles on you, you might be state champion."
Hazlewood knocked off Notasulga in the semifinals for the second year in a row, but did it more comfortably this time than a year ago.
It took overtime for the Lady Golden Bears to wrap up a 73-68 win over Notasulga in last year's semifinals.
This year, Hazlewood decided it early. The only time Hazlewood trailed in the contest was 1-0 in the opening seconds.
The Lady Golden Bears jumped to a 21-6 lead in the first quarter, and owned a 20-point advantage in the third period.
Hazlewood controlled the game from the opening tip.
"We'll do whatever the game dictates, but certainly at this time of year you want to do what got you here," Liles said.
What got Hazlewood to the Final Four was what Bell described as a "chaotic defense."
Hazlewood's defense forced 47 turnovers in the contest, paced by Naughtia Langham and Lachare Reedus' five steals apiece and Chasitey Garner with four.
And while Hazlewood's defense frustrated Notsulga, the Lady Golden Bears also scored the last six points of the second quarter for a 37-19 halftime lead.
Then, the Lady Golden Bears stepped up their defensive intensity.
"We made some adjustments and put pressure on the ball," Liles said.
"Pressure does weird things to people, even if they're open it frustrates them."
Hazlewood's lead was up to 56-28 at the end of the third quarter, and free throws by Reedus early in the fourth made it a 30-point margin, 60-30.
Langham's 16 points, 11 rebounds, five steals and three assists led Hazlewood.
Amber Jones added 14 points and two steals for the Lady Golden Bears, while Garner and Ciara Gilchrist each scored eight.
For Notasulga, Fredericka Nettles scored 18 points, Jasmine Drake finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds and four steals and Natasha Williams scored 11.
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