HomeSportsDefense pushes Lady Hawks into region title game

Defense pushes Lady Hawks into region title game

HENDERSON – South Side had the intention of leaving no doubt in the girls’ basketball Region 6-3A semifinal against Chester County on Monday.

The Lady Hawks won 64-25 after a dominating performance in the first half in which South Side led 40-8 at halftime.

“I’m proud of our defensive effort tonight,” said head coach Brent McNeal. “I think we’re at a point in the season where everybody has film on everybody, so they knew that we were going to come out aggressive on defense.

“And that was what we were wanting to do, and the girls did it.”

The defense in the first half by the Lady Hawks was stifling, holding the Eaglettes to 17 total shots in the first two quarters as South Side made 16 shots in that same time.

Chester County struggled to score late in the first quarter and early in the second, going scoreless from the 4:10 mark in the first quarter until 2:10 remaining in the second. South Side scored 29 in that stretch.

Offensively, South Side stayed safe with its shot selection, hitting 10 of 20 in two-point field goal attempts and going 6-for-15 from the 3-point line in the first half. Senior Albany Collins hit four of those shots.

“It was my sophomore year when the last time we played here, so Coach told us to go out in the halftime of the game before and shoot and get used to shooting in this gym,” Collins said. “And I was feeling good about it when the game started.”

Up by 32 at the break, the Lady Hawks were already flirting with a running clock mercy rule when the third quarter started.

“We talked at halftime about not playing to the scoreboard but continuing to play to our standard,” McNeal said. “And for the most part, I felt we did that.”

While the scoring output did slow some in the third quarter, one Lady Hawk that kept the point total going up was Miss Basketball finalist Ti’Mia Lawson, who scored 10 of South Side’s 12 points in that period.

“Coach told us to keep playing, keep playing, so that’s what I was doing,” Lawson said. “We can’t let up during tournament time because tonight was win-or-go-home.”

The good thing about Monday’s win is the next game in the region championship against South Gibson (Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Chester County High School) is it’s the last point in TSSAA’s postseason in which a loss doesn’t end the season.

The winner will host the Region 5 runner-up on Saturday in the sectional, and the loser in Henderson will travel to the Region 5 champion in Middle Tennessee.

The winners of both of those games will be in the state tournament in Murfreesboro.

South Side is 3-0 this season against the Lady Hornets, winning by point margins of 3, 13 and 14 points.

McNeal said the discussion after Monday’s game was to avoid the temptation to overlook a team the Lady Hawks have beaten three times.

“South Gibson is a good team and played us good games every time we’ve played them,” McNeal said. “They want to win as much as we want to, and when you’re as familiar with each other as we are, a lot of this game will come down to who wants it more.”

Collins and Lawson said the Lady Hawks want a region championship and to play one more home game ahead of the ultimate goal of a state championship.

“We want it, but we’ve got to play like it,” said Collins, who finished with 23 points.

Lawson finished with 18.

Brandon Shields,

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