Red Bay girls heading to Final 48Published 5:57pm Sunday, February 23, 2014
By Keith Ledbetter
For the FCT
Making it into the Final 48 is the dream of all Alabama basketball teams. This past Saturday the Red Bay Lady Tigers accomplished that in style by knocking off Tanner 39-28 in the regional finals at Wallace State.
Red Bay is one of the 2A final four that will compete in the AHSAA Final 48 semi-finals that will start on Tuesday, Feb. 25.
“They have done a tremendous job today,” Tiger head coach Donnie Roberts said following the win on Saturday.
“So far this has been a wonderful year, and it just keeps getting better and better.”
Roberts said that normally his number one key to tell his Lady Tigers before a game is to make baskets, but Saturday Roberts said he changed that to getting back on defense.
“I’ve watched Tanner play, and if you let them get a fast break they can hurt you,” he said.
“We did a good job at stopping that today.”
Red Bay (31-3) will play Samson on Tuesday at 3 p.m. from the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center.
The winner, who represents the 2A north, will play the winner of Woodland and Montgomery Academy, who represents the south.
This will be the Lady Tigers’ second appearance at state in three years.
Just two years ago, the Red Bay Lady Tigers advanced to the state semi-final after defeating Mars Hill 33-25, and then advanced to the final against Section after defeating Barbour County by a score of 49-36.
The Lady Tigers were runner-up to Section.
Saturday night, both Red Bay and Tanner came out slow in the first quarter and combined to score only seven points at the end of the first.
Red Bay had only a one-point lead going into the second quarter but kept the advantage over Tanner and managed to build on that throughout the game.
Freshman Allie Kennedy, who led Red Bay with 14 points, was the spark that powered Red Bay’s spread offense, an offense that kept the Lady Rattlers’ defense searching for an answer throughout the game.
“I’m so proud of my teammates,” Kennedy said.
“We worked so hard to get here, and I’m so proud of them. It feels great to be going to Birmingham.”
To complete the package, Red Bay’s high pressure defense caused 18 Tanner turnovers, resulting in 21 points for the Lady Tigers.
Red Bay had 12 points from the free throw line, but trailed Tanner on rebounds 40-25.
Although Red Bay led throughout the game, the Lady Tigers were never completely out of touch by the Rattlers until three minutes into the fourth when they took a 10-point, 32-22 lead.
Normally a 10-point lead that late in the game would ease Tiger fans worries somewhat, but their memories were still fresh from the sub-region Red Bay-Lexington overtime game that Red Bay came back to win 52-41.
“This team has worked their tail off,” Roberts said.
“They have worked out all summer in the weight room and we have beefed up our schedule that has included harder teams. And you do all that for this day and to get to Birmingham.”
Along with Kennedy’s 14 points, Kasey Sparks scored 13, Darby Madden added six, Carlee Berry scored five, and Elizabeth Wooten added one.
Semi-finals – Red Bay-Sulligent
Red Bay advanced to the regional finals after eliminating Sulligent by a score of 56-33 during Wednesday’s semi-final game.
The Lady Tigers got off to a 7-0 lead before Sulligent’s Brooklyn Noland sunk a three pointer.
Red Bay added another 11 points while they held the Lady Blue Devils to only two more points in the first.
Red Bay took a 10-point, 28-18 lead at halftime, and had a 42-20 advantage at the beginning of the fourth.
Allie Kennedy led Red Bay with 18 points, Kasey Sparks scored 13, Jade Faulkner added seven, Darby Madden scored six, Carlee Berry and Hope Cook added three each.
Elizabeth Wooten, Brooklyn Bolton, and Morgan Pierce scored two each.