Headed to Hanceville
No. 5 Red Bay draws rematch with Tanner
RED BAY – For the Red Bay girls basketball program, the Lady Tigers' first trip to the Northwest Regional tournament since 2003 couldn't come soon enough.
"It's been a long five years," said Red Bay coach Donnie Roberts, who has guided the Lady Tigers to state titles in 1987, 1993 and 2001. "We became a better and different team after winning against Mars Hill in the area finals. These are just great kids with first-class sportsmanship, and I'm really proud of them and how they have handled everything they've gone through."
No. 5 Red Bay (28-3) will face unranked Tanner (17-13), which beat the depleted Lady Tigers in the Northwest Alabama Christmas tournament in December.
"Tanner beat us during the tournament at Lauderdale County. It was our third game in three days, and my girls were exhausted. We were missing a starter and playing with eight players, and they only had seven," said Roberts. "They have an eighth-grader, Sierra Sales, and she is an inside presence for them. She's 5-10 or 5-11 and every bit of 250 pounds. They also have a couple of girls who are good outside shooters."
Red Bay depends heavily on its experienced starting five, which includes senior post players Chelsey McWilliams, the team's leading rebounder and scorer, and Brittany Scott, plus senior point guard Jessica Johnston, junior shooting guard Britan Bolding and junior wing Morgan Duncan, the team's leading 3-point shooter.
The Lady Tigers also have a deep bench that features sixth man Kirsten Sharp, post players Jackie Holland, Meghann Oliver, Shantell Nichols and guards Caitlin Childers, Whitney Sharp, Hannah Sharp, Taylor Hester and Morgan McKinney.
"We're not going to try and change anything against Tanner. We've been playing man-to-man defense since I've been coaching here," Roberts said. "We had some success pressing Tanner but we're probably not going to do that in this game because we don't want to give up any easy baskets."
Roberts said the winning team will have to play well in the half-court game.
"This is going to be a half-court game and it's going to come down to doing a good job in our half-court defense. We have to get back defensively, and we can't give up easy shots on the break."