DIST. 5-A GIRLS BASKETBALL: Defense the key for Southern Fulton against Tussey Mountain
Southern Fulton's girls basketball team has done it once this season. But can they do it again?
"We're going to give it our best shot," coach Terry Bard said.
When the No. 5 seed Indians (14-9) travel to Everett on Thursday to face No. 1 seed Tussey Mountain (20-3) in the District 5 Class A semifinals, there will be no surprises. The teams have squared off twice this season, with each team earning a victory. Tussey Mountain won the first matchup, 52-27, but Southern Fulton got revenge with a huge 54-53 upset win in overtime. But the teams' last meeting was Jan. 12.
"We're a totally different team than the first two times we played them," Bard said, "and the girls know that if they buckle down and show up to play, we have the ability to beat anyone."
And that starts on the defensive end. The Indians haven't given up more than 50 points in their last six games, and they have held their opponent to fewer than 40 in their last two.
"That's been our focus for the last two weeks," Bard said. "If we can play tough, smart and aggressive defense, we could have a shot to win. If we don't, it's going to be a long night."
Southern Fulton's biggest concern will be the Titans' Breana Kendrick and Amanda Stoudnour. Kendrick is averaging 18.5 points per game, according to Maxpreps, and Stoudnour is averaging 9.7.
Bard said, "They have a nice 1-2 punch. You always have to worry about Kendrick, but then you have Stoudnour hanging around the paint. We just have to play aggressive, in-your-face defense the whole game."
Offensively, Southern Fulton will be looking to everyone to contribute. Olivia Mottern continues to be the Indians' best weapon. She's averaging 17.3 points per game and is coming off a 22-point performance in the first round against McConnellsburg. All of her points came in the second half. In the first meeting against Tussey, she finished with just six points, compared to 22 in the Indians' win.
"Honestly, we're going to need all five of our players on the court contributing," Bard said. "We know our strengths, and we know what we have to do to win this game."
If they can pull it out, the Indians will move on to the district championship and clinch a berth into states for the seventh consecutive season.
Game data: Southern Fulton Indians vs. Tussey Mountain Titans ... Thursday, 7, at Everett H.S. ... District 5 Class A girls basketball semifinal.
Media: Follow @ShawnCMichael on Twitter for live updates.
Teams: No. 5 seed SF is 14-9 ... The Titans (20-3) are the No. 1 seed.
This year: Tussey won at home 52-27 in December; SF won at home 54-53 in overtime in January.
At stake: The winner plays Saturday for the district title ... The loser plays the other semifinal loser Saturday for third place and a berth in the state tournament.
P.O. pick: Tussey by 7.