EPC advances to regional championship round with wins over Riverside and Piggott

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Tribune Sports Staff

The 59-50 score of the EPC Lady Warriors-Riverside Lady Rebels game last Wednesday which opened the AA Region IV tournament in Earle was not indicative of the ease with which EPC (23-1) defeated Riverside (22-10).

"Riverside came out in a zone like we expected them to." Coach Bobby Lewallen said after the game. "But we shot the ball extremely well from the outside. We had seven three's for the game."

Some of those three pointers came from sisters Sade and Jordan Madden as well as Samantha King who scored 17, 14 and 12 points respectively.

"We're hard to guard man-to-man." Lewallen continued. "We're tall and quick at the same time so everyone is playing a zone to make us hit from the outside.

"Sade, Jordan and Sam were in double figures, which is good because by spreading the score around it made the other team have to cover everyone rather than just one or two players."

The only real threat the Lady Rebels made came a minute into the final period when, after struggling back form being down 31-19 at the half, managed to close to within six, 43-36. Tired of toying with them, the Lady Warriors proceeded to go 16-0 with, primarily, outside shots they had been training hard to perfect.

"As I said, everyone has been playing us a zone," Lewallen explained. "so we got out our shooting machine and have been working with it to improve our outside shooting. I think that helped us have a little more confidence and let us put some more outside jump shots in."

Also getting points for the Lady Warriors were Lauren A. Turner with eight, Alisha Gilmer five and LaPorscha Williams four.

For Riverside, Marisa Johnson led in points with 11 while Sam Dunigan and Morgan Emery had 10 each.

"We've got to have everyone step up and contribute in order for us to keep on going." Lewallen concluded. "Everyone we play for the rest of the way is going to be very good. We've got a lot of good shooters, though, so we have the talent to spread the shooting around.

"We have a lot of people who could be the leading scorers on any night, so if one player is down, the other have to step up and we've shown we can do that."

Thursday night, EPC took the court against the 3AA-North Conference runner-up Piggott who had defeated Marked Tree 61-46 the night before.

Gilmer opened the game with a field goal to give the Lady Warriors a 2-0 lead. Then over the next couple of minutes, both teams worked back and forth trying to test each other and by about the 5:00 mark the game was tied at 4-all. Then Jordan Madden stole the ball and went the distance for a bucket. This seemed to set EPC off and the Lady Warriors went on a 15-1 run to close out the quarter 19-5.

"Defensively, we were all over the place and we just wouldn't let them out rebound us," Lewallen said. "I had been preaching at them in practice just how good a rebounding team they were and we did just an outstanding job of keeping them off the boards."

The second quarter opened with Jordan Madden hitting for two again to put EPC up 21-5. This would not start another run, however, other than a Piggot run of defensive boards. As the Lady Warriors hit a 4:00 dry spell with only Gilmer a single free-throw, the Mohawks went on a run of grabbing six straight defensive boards. Unfortunately for them, they were able to gain only two-points from the string due to the EPC defensive dominance.

Then at the halfway point of the period Jordan, the younger Madden, bounced a shot off the backboard, but rather than Piggott getting the rebound, Williams snatched it and sent it into a streaking Sade Madden for the lay-up and a 24-7 lead. The remainder of the period, EPC outscored Piggott 9-6 for a 33-13 halftime lead.

The second half, in essence, was a case of Piggott trying to keep the mercy rule from being invoked, which they succeeded in, while EPC shuttled players in and out to give them some Regional game experience while keeping the Lady Mohawks from making any sort of rally.

"It was really a case of the girls knowing what was at stake and them making sure that nothing stopped them from returning to the state tournament," Lewallen continued. "I was really impressed with the way the girls played offensively and defensively. Everyone did what they needed to do."

The Maddens led the Lady Warriors in points with Sade hitting for 17 and Jordan close behind with 15. Also scoring were Gilmer with nine, King six, Williams five, Sabrina Benton two and Turner one.

Fro Piggott, Ashley Coleman had 14 and Erica Richmond 10.

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