Prep notebook: AC-TE meeting looming

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Quit peeking.

Just like the math teacher who made sure no one looked up the answers in the back of the book, coaches at Adams Christian and Trinity Episcopal don&8217;t want anyone to start talking of the possibilities of what could happen if both girls&8217; teams win Tuesday night to open the Class AA South State playoffs at Columbia.

Because in sports, that&8217;s a sin that ranks up there in real life with pulling a cake out of the oven too soon to see if it&8217;s done. Or checking the mail so many times the doggone door falls off.

Email newsletter signup

Just be patient. Both teams need to win before anything can happen. Adams will face Brookhaven Academy Tuesday after Trinity battles Copiah Academy in first-round games.

If both teams win, ahem, they will meet up at 1 p.m. Friday. A loss on Tuesday means turn in the jerseys.

&8220;I can&8217;t even go there yet,&8221; Trinity head coach Melanie Hall said. &8220;My focus and my team&8217;s focus is on Copiah. I just can&8217;t go there. In tournament time, there have been some major upsets. Those first-round games &8212; you&8217;ve got to be focused and ready to play because you&8217;re not given tomorrow.&8221;

It&8217;s the possibility of the two teams playing that may get people talking this week. It&8217;s a contest that many were anticipating had the two played as scheduled back in November and rescheduled for Jan. 30. Both are pretty evenly matched with good size, good shooters and nice guard play.

The two met in South State last season &8212; a 40-26 Adams Christian win &8212; after the two teams split the home-and-home series during the regular season.

&8220;I&8217;ve got a lot of respect for Trinity and Coach Hall,&8221; Adams head coach John R. Gray said. &8220;We&8217;ll have to play four good quarters to play with them.&8221;

Neither team is talking up a crosstown showdown just yet since it&8217;s here where upsets are prevalent. Take Riverfield, who finished up the No. 4 seed out of District 3 after being the only district team to beat ACCS in the regular season.

And who can forget Columbia&8217;s girls finishing the regular season No. 2 last season and getting knocked out of the first round of the district tournament by No. 7-seeded Silliman?

The pressure is on Tuesday&8217;s go-home game. A win ensures life at the state tournament since the top four seeds move on.

&8220;I&8217;m not so concerned about the other school,&8221; Hall said. &8220;My focus is on our team and things we can do and executing them together.&8221;

Yet this week will fuel the debate as to which of the two Natchez teams have the tougher district. Hall and her club have had their hands full in District 4 with Columbia, Bowling Green and Brookhaven, and she hopes it pays off at this point when it matters most.

The Lady Saints finished off Brookhaven Academy Friday night for the third time this season.

&8220;To be able to beat anybody in your district three times, that&8217;s incredible,&8221; Hall said. &8220;I thank God for the opportunity to work with these kids. Every game we played this year we had to be ready to go. It was a battle when we hit the court. There wasn&8217;t a game on our schedule that wasn&8217;t a tough opponent, in my opinion. There wasn&8217;t anybody that wasn&8217;t a dogfight.&8221;

YOUNG GUNS &8212; Don&8217;t go off trying this at home unless you&8217;ve got the personnel. WCCA head coach Ray Olive brought up a group of freshmen during the week with the Rams hosting the District 6-A tournament with the idea of using them at just the right time.

That right time was in the second half with his club trailing to Lamar Christian. They helped turn the momentum as the Rams took a 44-41 win to claim the tournament title.

&8220;I played them five minutes in the third quarter (Friday) night that swung the momentum our way,&8221; Olive said. &8220;They&8217;re fast, and they hustle. I used them in the last of the third quarter, and that swung the momentum our way. They caused several turnovers and kept Lamar from scoring.&8221;

Things started to swing in the Rams&8217; favor in the fourth quarter after the Lions led 29-24 after three. From there the Rams kept hammering the inside on offense and kept the tempo up on defense to grab the momentum.

Big man Joseph Landry had 10 of his 15 points in the second half and eight in the fourth quarter. Eli Ashley had 11 in the second half, and T-Ray Deville had six points in the fourth.

&8220;Their game is not inside,&8221; Olive said of Lamar. &8220;They work outside to get inside layups. We guarded the perimeter and got on whoever the hot shooter was. In the past games they had streak shooters. One would get hot, and we wouldn&8217;t adjust to him. We dared them to come inside, and they stayed outside the whole game.&8221;

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS &8212; Prairie View Academy eighth-grader Caroline Oliphant is as big an anomaly as you&8217;ll find in high school basketball. In short, she&8217;s a junior or senior crammed into junior high frame.

But don&8217;t let her size and baby face fool you. She had the savvy of an experienced player at point guard Saturday against Adams Christian in the finals of the District 3-AA tournament and even led the team in scoring with 18 points.

&8220;She&8217;s a very mature kid,&8221; PV head coach Dave Farrell said. &8220;She was playing eighth-grade ball in the fourth grade. She&8217;s always played up. She&8217;s a good player and a great kid. She&8217;s our best shooter, and they did a good job of taking her out of it. If you have to game plan around an eighth-grader, she&8217;s probably pretty good.&8221;

Oliphant took most of her team&8217;s shots from the field and on that night was the team&8217;s best defender as well. But the Lady Rebels made her work for most of her shots in the halfcourt and tried to shut down everyone else.

Forward Meghan Austin spent most of the game defending Oliphant in the man-to-man defense.

&8220;She did a super job on her,&8221; Gray said. &8220;(Oliphant) is unusual. She&8217;s one of the best eighth-graders I&8217;ve ever watched. It&8217;s unbelievable how mature she is and how well she understands the game. I&8217;m just thankful she&8217;s not 5-11.&8221;