Photo by Heather Middleton
By Derrick Mahone
There will be two contrasting styles of basketball at play this evening when sixth-ranked Forest Park hosts No. 7 McIntosh in the second round of the Class AAAA playoffs.
The Lady Panthers, owners of a 15-game winning streak, will face their first ranked Georgia team this season. Forest Park has not lost to an in-state team so far this season.
McIntosh (26-4) should provide the Lady Panthers with their biggest challenge this season. Forest Park, the Region 4-AAAA champions, cruised in their first round playoff game with a 78-43 win over Ware County Friday.
It was the eighth time this season that Forest Park, which is averaging 61 points per game, has scored at least 70 points in a game.
"Anytime that you win, you are pleased about something," Forest Park coach Steven Cole said. "We led the whole game and was able to play at our tempo."
And the Lady Panthers are hoping to carry that momentum into their 6 p.m. contest with McIntosh.
All season, Forest Park has benefited from its fullcourt pressure defense with Cole substituting five players at a time. By contrast, the Lady Chiefs prefer a slower pace, halfcourt tempo.
Forest Park has been dominating since the beginning of the year. On its current winning streak, the Lady Panthers have won all but one game by double digits. It closes game in 2011 has been a 56-49 win over North Clayton in the region championship game.
"We got to play our game, and try to force them to play the way we like to," Forest Park senior Keyonna Allen said.
McIntosh's pace is slow it down and be patience. The Lady Chiefs are led by senior forward Laura Higgason, who has scored 1,000 career points. Junior Gabby Seiler is no stranger to the Forest Park players, because she plays in the same AAU organization with many of them.
"We want to play our pace," Cole said. "At this point in the season, you don't want to change what you do best. We want to do the things that we do."
In their win at Bainbridge, Higgason had 22 points while Seiler added 13.
"We know they have some players that are a threat," Allen said. "We know about Gabby. They have some shooters on their team so we have to use our size. We are very focused because we haven't reached our goal yet."
McIntosh has won 13 of its last 14 games with the only loss coming against No. 3 Alcovy in the Region 3-AAAA semifinals. Prior to the loss to Alcovy, the Lady Chiefs won 11 straight wins with its last loss against No. 3 Fayette County.
McIntosh lost 37-36 after getting blown out in the first meeting (70-36) between the two schools. The teams other loss was 49-25 to Northwest Whitfield, a state semifinalist last season.
"Everyone around the school is pretty hyped about this game," junior forward Cydni Bivins said. "We are exciting a pretty big turnout."