Notebook: Tensas girls take full head of steam into South State

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 14, 2005

Depending on how you look at the big picture, it’s almost unfair.

Of all the solid teams in the MPSA’s three classes, here are Tensas Academy’s Lady Chiefs trying to fight their way back to the Overall tournament but facing a hard road ahead to do so.

It’s the eve of the start of the postseason today, and there are enough talented teams in the association’s smallest class to match up with almost anyone. The Lady Chiefs, winners of 13 straight, enter the South State tournament at Huntington with just one thing on their minds, and it isn’t Overall tournament or the state tournament.

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It’s Tuesday’s game against Glenbrook.

&uot;If you win that (first game), that’ll get you in the next tournament,&uot; TA head coach Chuck Bauerle said. &uot;That’s what’s important. I think we’ve got three really good teams in the tournament. When you look around and see the different classes, Class A the last three or four years has really had some tough schools. And I’m not talking about us &045; Riverfield won the Overall the year before last. It really is a tough class.&uot;

There’s enough talent at the South State to make it pretty tough to predict a winner, but you’ve got to figure the Lady Chiefs to be in the mix somewhere by the time the tournament culminates Saturday afternoon.

Much of the credit has come from the offensive end, with many teams throwing a zone defense at them. Only Huntington threw a man at them during the entire 10-game district season, and the Lady Hounds quickly got out of it after only a few minutes.

That’s left the perimeter shooters open. Aubrey McEacharn has led the team in scoring in recent games thanks to her outside shooting.

&uot;Aubrey has really been shooting well from the 3-point line,&uot; Bauerle said. &uot;She’s really coming into her own this year. She’s probably led us in scoring the last three or four ball games. That (zone) is really all we see. If we see Claiborne or Riverdale, we’ll get back to a man defense. I’ve got a couple of girls who really play a man defense. We really like to see it.&uot;

The zone defenses from the opposition has forced the Lady Chiefs to get into a half-court game, something they struggled at during stages of the 2003-04 season. Now they’ve become more adept in the situations with Tabitha Howard and Megan Bauerle dropping down to a forward position alongside center Whitney Alford.

Each of those key players will be integral for the Lady Chiefs, as will outside shooter Sarah Beth Melville &045; the team’s only senior. They haven’t lost since a Dec. 17 meeting at Central Private but lost three times to Claiborne.

&uot;When you get down to the tournaments, you’ll get some nights offensively where you can’t do anything,&uot; Chuck Bauerle said. &uot;Defensive intensity will be what wins ball games for you. We think we can beat Claiborne, but you still have to prove it. If you play against good teams, they’re not going to lay down. You’re going to have to beat them.&uot;

TUESDAY REMATCH &045; It’s almost been stewing in the back of Sue Johnson’s mind like a low-budget film. Her Natchez High girls did not play well in a 75-50 loss to powerhouse Callaway Dec. 3, and she knew it.

But times have changed with the Lady Bulldogs. Now winners of nine straight, they’ll get another crack at Callaway and its two Division I signees Tuesday in Jackson &045; a game Johnson earlier vowed won’t be a runaway.

&uot;I think it will be a lot better than that first one,&uot; Johnson said. &uot;I said it’s going to be a different story. We’re not going to get beat by 25 or more. It’s going to be a much tighter game.&uot;

The contest will be an awful good litmus test for a team that’s been on fire of late. The Lady Bulldogs knocked off Murrah on Tuesday and pounded Jefferson County Friday.

&uot;I personally think the team believes we can beat Callaway,&uot; senior post Delequa Drake said. &uot;If everybody comes together, we’ll come out of there with a win. But you’ve got to come ready.&uot;

DELTA FORCE &045; In Friday’s 42-34 win over Copiah Academy, the Adams Christian girls used a play you don’t see very often in high school girls’ basketball.

The play, referred to as Delta &045; or at least until this article came out &045; is a set play for post Arianna DeLaSalle, who takes advantage of a backside screen near the top of the key to get loose from her defender, then dives down the left side of the lane toward the basket.

At the same time, point guard Brittany Gamberi, standing near the 3-point line on the right side of the court, throws a lob pass over the defense towards the basket. DeLaSalle, usually wide open off the screen, catches the ball and gets an easy layup.

&uot;That’s a pretty good play,&uot; DeLaSalle said. &uot;We have fun with it. Most people aren’t ready for it, but we don’t run it too much. They get used to it after awhile.&uot;

Most girls’ teams don’t run it because it requires an athletic post player who can jump up to catch the ball and finish and a point guard who can throw a pass over the defense to the basket, something that can be tough to find at the high school level.

&uot;We got that play from Brookhaven (Academy’s) repertoire,&uot; AC head coach John Gray said. &uot;Arianna jumps so well to get it we don’t have to throw the perfect pass.&uot;

IN IT AGAIN &045; There was solace to be found in the Ferriday girls’ loss Friday at Lake Providence. Although they would much rather have won and played for the No. 2 spot out of District 4-2A, they’ve all but wrapped up the No. 3 spot to get in the playoffs again under head coach Lisa Abron.

The Lady Trojans finish up the regular season this week with Vidalia and McCall and will likely visit Rayville to open the playoffs.

&uot;We’re going to go ahead and do our best against McCall,&uot; Abron said. &uot;We need to get revenge on them after what they did to us up there. I’m kind of familiar with Rayville. I’m just happy to go to the playoffs. Every year I’ve coached here we’ve gone.&uot;

Sports writer Christian Schmidt contributed to this report.