Photo: Hokes Bluff’s Maddie Smith (left) protects the ball from Oneonta’s Virginia Ritchie during the Lady Eagles 56-38 loss in the Class 4A Northeast Regional Tournament semifinals last Monday (Feb. 17) at Jacksonville State. (Courtesy of Alex Chaney)
By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
A 20-6 second quarter run propelled Oneonta to a 56-38 victory over Hokes Bluff in the Class 4A Northeast Regional Tournament girls basketball semifinals last Monday (Feb. 17) at Pete Mathews Coliseum at Jacksonville State University.
The Lady Redskins led 13-8 after the first quarter, but Hokes Bluff (25-9) started the second period with a 6-0 run after a 1-and-1 from Kristen Shields and a 3-point basket by Maddie Wolfe. However, Oneonta (23-6) quickly regained the lead and never looked back.
Oneonta hit five 3-pointers in the first half, including three in less than two minutes in the second quarter to spark the run. The Lady Redskins shot 44 percent from the perimeter (7-16). Five different players hit a shot from the outside for Oneonta.
“[Oneonta] shoot the ball pretty well,” said Hokes Bluff coach Jason Shields. “Tonight, they were all pretty much hot. [Baylor Phillips] is a deadeye shooter, and the rest of them shot it well. If you left them open, they made it.”
Hokes Bluff struggled from the field, hitting only 12 of its 40 field goal attempts. The Lady Eagles only connected on two of their 12 three-pointer attempts and were 12-for-22 from the free throw line.
Shields said Oneonta’s length gave his team problems offensively.
“We didn’t shoot the ball really well, but I think that had a lot to do with their length,” he said. “They’re a little taller than we are. They’re about 5’7, 5’8, and we’re about 5’3, 5’4 at the guards.”
The Lady Eagles’ deficit did not get any closer than 10 points during in the third quarter. Every time Hokes Bluff made a shot, Oneonta responded with basket of its own.
“We’re a ball-control type team, and we’re having to do something we’re not accustomed to doing,” Shields said “It sort of puts us behind the 8-ball a little bit. Getting down in the first half sort of changed the game plan. We were having to play a more open-court style, and we really don’t want to play that style. We want to be up and make you play a boring game, and we didn’t do that.”
Kristen Shields led all scorers with 16 points and five rebounds. Wolfe and Bailee Latronico added seven points apiece for Hokes Bluff. Phillips led Oneonta with 13 points, while Sydney Robertson scored 11. Sydney Baker added eight points and 13 rebounds for the Lady Redskins.
Hokes Bluff graduates six seniors, including Shields, Jayden Presley, Aubrey Moland, Madison Ingram, Meghan Cashman and Haleigh Cashman. Shields said he was proud of the way this group accepted their roles this season.
“They’re one of the best teams I’ve ever had in understanding what they’re there for. That’s hard to get kids to get to do today. We’re a bunch of good teammates, and to me, that’s the most important thing.
“I feel like we’ve grown a lot since last year, and once we start winning games, we get more confident,” Wolfe added.
Shields said he felt like his team overachieved this year, especially considering how last season ended.
“This bunch went 14-16 last year. We won 25 games this year… I’m not at all disappointed in this bunch. They’ve been overachievers all year long. I’m proud of them.”