Lady Red Devils lose area tournament title game, still advance to regional

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By Mark Clark

They did not win the Area 4 Tournament, but they did earn a trip to the Central Regional in Montgomery when they defeated the Smiths Station High Lady Panthers last week 77-52. That win put the Central High Lady Red Devils into the area tournament’s title game with Auburn High with a chance to enter the Central Regional as the No. 1 seed from Area 4.

Unfortunately, the Lady Red Devils fell to Auburn 58-44 and took the No. 2 seed as both teams advanced to the next round of postseason play.

“We were not consistent in the areas we needed to be consistent,” Central Coach Carolyn Wright said of her team in its loss to Auburn.

Central, 15-13, was scheduled to play R.E. Lee-Montgomery’s Lady Generals this past Tuesday. The Lady Generals, 21-9, were the winners of Area 3. Auburn was slated to play Enterprise in the other opening round game of the Class 7A girls’ bracket of the Central Regional – also last Tuesday. The winners will face off next Tuesday, Feb. 20, at Alabama State University’s Acadome. Game time for the Central Regional championship is 4 p.m. ET.

Auburn took a 12-8 lead over Central in the first quarter of the title game, but the lead did not hold. Central turned up the heat on defense in the second quarter with a full-court press, trapping Auburn’s players and forcing turnovers. The pressure was too much for the Lady Tigers and they saw their lead erased by the Lady Red Devils.

But, the Central lead was briefer than that held by Auburn as the Lady Red Devils had problems controlling the ball after steals.

“We just were not patient after we got those steals and forced turnovers. Our press worked fine, but we lacked that patience going to the basket after we got the turnover and started making turnovers ourselves,” Wright said.

“I guess I have stressed it so much that we have become a very defensive-minded team. Now, I am having to get them to concentrate on scoring. You can chalk our mistakes up to youth. With a little more experience, we can become a force to be reckoned with.”

When Central was battling back from the early deficit against Auburn, most of the points were coming from the inside play of Kayla Davis and Alliyah Spivey. When those points started to fall off, it was the inside play of Auburn that took over. The Lady Tigers were able to regain the lead and never relinquished it again.

“Central kept swinging at us. They battled hard and took the lead away,” Auburn coach Terryland Dawson. “We knew Central would bring it. They play hard the entire game.”

With the victory, Auburn claimed its third consecutive area tournament title.

Davis finished the game with 17 points. Spivey had eight. Davis was selected along with teammate Alleya King to the all-tournament team.

In the opening round of the tournament, Central had to defeat Smiths Station to get to the title game and to earn its spot in the central regional. They did that with a 77-52 victory over the Lady Panthers.

“Smiths Station’s girls were shooting well from outside, but they could not get inside to do anything. We just kept playing our game against them and got the win,” Wright said.

King led Central with 16 points while Eryn Johnson scored 12. Morgan Ficklin and Davis both had eight points for Central.