Photo: Glencoe High’s Ashley Morgan (11) attempts a shot as Weaver’s Trinity Pulliam (13) and Maleah Foster (11) defend during The Lady Yellow Jackets’ 67-39 win in the Class 3A Northeast Regional Tournament semifinals last Monday (Feb. 18) at Jacksonville State. (Gary Wells)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
The Glencoe High girls basketball team had no intentions of having its season end in the Class 3A Northeast Regional Tournament semifinals last Monday (Feb. 18) at Jacksonville State.
The Lady Yellow Jackets (21-9) dominated Weaver from start to finish in a 67-39 win that set up a second straight regional championship game against Pisgah, the defending 3A state champions.
“This is what I expected from a team that’s been here three straight years,” said Glencoe head coach Daniel Cook. “I believe that was a big advantage for us today. I’m just proud of our team for coming and keeping up the pressure and hitting some shots to put this one away kind of early.
Weaver’s a dangerous team that has some athletes, and Coach [Gary] Atchley has done an amazing job with that program.”
Glencoe’s high-pressure defense forced the Lady Bearcats into a 33 percent shooting effort (14-for-42), including 1-for-7 from the three-point line, and 23 turnovers.
“Even when we weren’t getting turnovers, I felt that we were getting [Weaver’s] offense out of synch,” said Cook. “We tried to make it a helter-skelter type of game as much as we could. I thought we did a pretty good job in the second half of keeping up the pressure. Something we always preach is to keep running the floor and pressure, pressure, pressure. There were gaps where we were able to turn a couple of turnovers into points were able to really increase the lead.”
Nine Lady Yellow Jackets scored. Ashley Morgan led the way with 14 points, followed by Anna Beth Giles, Abby Vice, Lauren Cole and Cami Zahorscak with nine each and Anna Grace Goodwin and Crimson Silvey with six each. Cole and Vice each grabbed four rebounds, while Giles distributed four assists.
“We had almost five kids in double-digits [scoring], and that’s amazing,” said Cook. “Cami played really well for us and hit some outside shots that really stretched their defense,” said Cook. “That allowed us to start scoring on the inside with our post players.”
Zahorscak’s three-point basket 35 seconds into the game kicked off 14-2 Glencoe run. Goodwin scored six points during the first quarter en route to an 18-10 lead.
The Lady Jackets went ahead by as many as 15 points in the second period before Weaver (21-10) drew within 29-20 with less than three minutes left in the first half.
The Lady Bearcats would get no closer. Two straight layups from Morgan restored Glencoe’s double-digit lead for the rest of the game, while five points from Vice two from Giles provided the Lady Yellow Jackets with a 40-23 halftime lead.
“I wasn’t necessarily happy with the way we played in the first half; I felt we left a lot of points on the court,” said Cook. “A lot of [Weaver’s] points in the first half were second-chance points, and that’s something we’ll have to work on.”
Glencoe outscored Weaver 16 to 6 in the third quarter for a 56-29 lead, allowing Cook to clear his bench for most of the fourth period.
Caleigh Cortez led Weaver with 12 points, followed by Trinity Pulliam with 11. Cortez also had seven rebounds, four assists and four steals.
The Lady Yellow Jackets shot a stellar 88 percent (15-for-17) from the free throw line.
“We have more than one player who can score, and I think that’s an advantage,” said Giles.
“I think we’re very unselfish,” said Vice. “If we see somebody [open], we’ll pass them the ball. We really don’t care who scores; as long as the team scores, that’s all that matters. It’s not about the points; it’s about winning.”
“It’s the third time [at the regional tournament], and I felt calm and comfortable in this gym,” said Morgan. “Playing in tough atmospheres this season, like against Southside in the county tournament, against Susan Moore in the area tournament and against Locust Fork [in the subregional round] really gave us an advantage today.
Cook added that according to Max Preps, the Lady Yellow Jackets played the toughest 3A schedule in the state.
“That’s got to count for something,” he said. “This is a loud environment, but it’s not a hostile environment like some of the places we’ve played at.”