The Central High Lady Red Devils will enter the 2020 Southeast Region semifinals round of the Class 7A tournament this morning at 10 a.m. ET at the Garrett Coliseum in Montgomery as the area champions. The local girls will be playing R.E. Lee High’s Lady Generals to begin the tournament.
The winner today will advance to the Southeast Region’s championship game next Tuesday, Feb. 18, with a berth in the Class 7A Final Four tournament in Birmingham.
Central, 19-7, earned the No. 1 seed at the tournament for Area 4 by defeating Auburn High 56-50 in the final of that event last Friday night at the Central Freshman Academy gym. Auburn also reached the semifinals of the 7A tournament’s regional round as the runner-ups in the area tournament because of its victory over Smiths Station High’s girls.
“We are very happy to be heading to the region tournament as the No. 1 seed from our area,” Central coach Carolyn Wright said. “We won the regular season title and really wanted to win the area tournament title. It has been three years since we have won the area tournament.”
Central trailed Auburn by two points, 47-45, with 1:38 to play after leading for the majority of the area tournament’s title game. With 1:25 remaining, Central’s Eryn Johnson made a lay-up to tie the score. From there, Central’s girls took the lead and held on to win.
Lady Red Devil Nya Upshaw dropped in a pair of free-throws with 1:12 left to give Central a 49-47 advantage. Central’s Jasmyn Burts all made a lay-up after a missed Auburn shot to put the Lady Red Devils on top 51-45. Mya Richardson made Central’s lead six points when she connected on a free-throw to make the score 52-46. The two teams traded baskets to make the score 54-48 before Upshaw put the game away for good when she was true on two more free tosses to make the score 56-48.
When Wright pulled out her team’s grade report for the night, it had checked off all the things she had asked them to do as she had season. The Lady Red Devils protected the basketball, made free-throws, was aggressive on defense and grabbed rebounds on both ends of the court.
“All season, I have told them the same things,” Wright said. “We have to do these things to win. I am proud that the girls won tonight and got the tournament title back.”
Now Wright is asking her team to keep on growing as they prepare for today’s Southeast Region contest with R.E. Lee-Montgomery.
“We will need to keep doing the things that have helped us be successful all season, but we want to do those things even better,” Wright said. “We want to keep playing well and hopefully move on in the tournament.”
Burts led Central’s scorers with 16 points, while Upshaw put up seven points as the team’s next highest for the game. Sierra Roberts, Burts and Upshaw were named to the all-tournament team. Burts was the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.