Trinity girls get second shot at Lady Rebels

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 1, 2006

If you missed the first one, you&8217;re in luck. If you miss the rematch today, shame on you.

This one may be better than the first one.

Call it luck of the bracket, but that&8217;s exactly the way it happened again in the Class AA state tournament. Trinity Episcopal and Adams Christian were both placed on the same side of the bracket, both needing wins to meet up again.

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Here we are. Both teams will square off for the second time in eight days at 1 p.m. today at East Rankin Academy after the Lady Rebels claimed a 49-37 win at South State one week ago.

&8220;The only thing good about this is one of us will play for a state championship and both will go to Overall,&8221; Adams head coach John R. Gray said. &8220;I want them to do well &8212; just not tomorrow night.

&8220;I think the pressure is back on us to play well. If they beat us, people aren&8217;t going to expect it. I told you from Day 1 there&8217;s not a line difference in the two teams. They just have different strengths.&8221;It&8217;s another chance for the Lady Saints to get a win in the crosstown showdown after falling in the first meeting. Both teams are making their second straight trip to the state tournament since being placed in Class AA two seasons ago, and both will play next week at Overall at Mississippi College.

Efforts to reach Trinity head coach Melanie Hall were unsuccessful. Hall held a closed practice Thursday at the school.

Even despite the outcome last week, both teams enter the game playing well. The Lady Saints landed a huge win Wednesday over Simpson Academy to move to the second round, while Adams Christian has played well since the District 3-AA tournament when it plowed through the bracket to the title.

The Lady Rebels haven&8217;t lost since then with an easy win over Bayou Academy two days ago and a hard-fought win over Columbia Academy Saturday to claim South State.

&8220;I was surprised against Columbia,&8221; junior Ariana DeLaSalle said. &8220;They had two really big girls. Mattie and I were having a little bit of trouble. (Wednesday night) surprised me. That was the most relaxed game I&8217;ve had in my whole life. We&8217;re doing a lot better inside. We&8217;re passing it off and looking for the open shot.&8221;

Gray hopes, however, the momentum doesn&8217;t miss a step despite the status of senior post Mattie Geoghegan. She injured a knee late in the game against Bayou, visited the doctor Thursday morning and showed up at practice later that afternoon with a brace on it.

Gray said he&8217;ll prepare for Geoghegan not to play, but no one will know for sure until game time. The Lady Rebels may use Hannah Southerland off the bench and move Meghan Austin down into Geoghegan&8217;s spot when she&8217;s not on the floor.

&8220;The trainer suggested she go to the doctor,&8221; Gray said. &8220;I was getting ready to take them all out. She hurt it in the finals at Columbia, but we didn&8217;t think it was serious. I&8217;m going to prepare as if she&8217;s not (playing). It&8217;s possible she would try to play. If she can, she will. Physically and mentally, she&8217;s tough.&8221;

That inside play was key for the Lady Rebels in their first meeting, along with the defense down low. The Lady Saints used their perimeter shooting to stay in it late in the game &8212; just what the Lady Rebels are thin in &8212; but struggled late rebounding.

Even if Geoghegan isn&8217;t at full strength, the Lady Rebels may still have an edge down low with DeLaSalle, Katie Ann Swinny and Austin.

But no one at Adams Christian is expecting things to go just as they did the first time or the Lady Saints to play just as they did. Each team&8217;s strength plays into the other&8217;s weak area, but count on Hall and her club to make the adjustments and pick up the intensity a significant notch.

&8220;She&8217;s got a new set we&8217;ve got to prepare for,&8221; Gray said. &8220;I have the utmost respect for her coaching ability. We&8217;ll have to be aware of who she&8217;s playing. If we can stay as strong as they are outside, we&8217;ll compete with them. If not, we&8217;ll have a difficult time staying in the ball game.&8221;