Photo by Jason Mussell
Riverdale freshman Angel Cooper (left) and Woodland junior Mecca Sneed battle for a loose ball during the semifinals of the Region 4-AAAA tournament.
STOCKBRIDGE — The teams with the two longest winning streaks in the Southern Crescent will fittingly face off Saturday to decide the Region 4-AAAA championship.
Woodland made sure of that by routing Riverdale 68-29 in Friday’s region semifinal at Woodland High.
In so doing, the Lady Wolfpack ran its school-record winning streak to 25. They did it with their usual team effort and balanced scoring which featured three players in double figures, including Lindsey Reed and Nicole Findura who both tallied a game- high 13 points.
The score was exactly identical to the final tally of Jonesboro’s semifinal win over Griffin in Friday’s first semifinal game. A detail that may in fact be telling as to how even the two teams are.
“We know we’re not going to have a game like (the Riverdale game) against Jonesboro,” said coach Ashley Maddox who, along with Jonesboro coach Lamar Harris, is in his first season pacing the sidelines for his team.
“We’re just hoping that we can stay in this game in the fourth quarter and give our girls a chance at the end.”
Woodland didn’t need any fourth-quarter heroics against Riverdale, as the Lady Wolfpack seized control of the game from the opening tip. The Wolfpack nailed five 3-pointers — two of them coming from Reed — in the opening period to take a commanding 27-9 after one quarter.
Riverdale never led, although it put together a 9-0 run early in the second, keyed by Toni Thomas who scored six of her team-high 13 points during that stretch. It was good enough to cut what was once a 25-point lead down to an 18 point deficit. But that was as close as the Lady Raiders would get for the rest of the game.
It was a game that summarized Maddox’s greatest goals for the season.
“We felt like we kind of let one go last week against Fayette in this tournament,” Maddox said. “We wanted to get into this game to get over the hump. There was a lot of talk last year about us winning state. But you’ve got to be honest about where you are.”
So what about this season?
“Well, I’m our biggest critic,” Maddox said. “I didn’t know how good we were until people started telling us. Of course we want to win against Jonesboro and go further. So by no means are we playing for second in this game.”
The challenge will be formidable. Maddox knows this. Woodland is the last team to beat the Lady Cardinals. But that was 21 games ago. Which means Jonesboro is the only team in the region that can match the Wolfpack’s dominance.
Not to mention their talent on the floor.
“There’s going to be two keys for us to win this game,” Maddox said. “Handling their press and stopping their transition. We were able to do that when we played them earlier this season. We’ll see if we can do that again.”
About the only drama that came in this game was when freshman Zaundra Stevens went down with what looked like a twisted knee late in the third quarter. Maddox doesn’t expect to her to miss any action.
“From what I can see it’ll probably be tender,” he said. “She said she didn’t hear a pop or anything, so we fully expect her to be ready.”