E.A. Sports Today

Saks survives

Browning comes up big for Saks in overtime, gives Lady Wildcats a chance to win their first region championship

Jordan Briskey focuses on the basket as she drives against Westminster Christian. (Photo by Kristen Stringer/Krisp Pics Photography)

Jordan Briskey focuses on the basket as she drives against Westminster Christian. (Photo by Kristen Stringer/Krisp Pics Photography)

By Jason Katz
For East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – Bry Browning sized up the Westminster Christian offense as time was running out in overtime Saturday. She needed to find a way to somehow get the ball back as the seconds ticked off the clock.

Whatever she had planned worked. The ball was put in play, stolen, and then put through the hoop to give Saks the advantage with little time remaining.

Time eventually ran out and the Lady Wildcats narrowly escaped with a 61-57 victory in the Class 4A Northeast Regionals to keep the momentum of their magical season moving toward Birmingham.

“I just kept thinking, ‘I have to do this for my team,’” Browning said. “I knew going into the overtime period that I would have to step up and make an impact. Coach asked me if I had any gas left in the tank and I said I have plenty, so it really was just a matter of me playing my game to benefit my teammates.”

Browning scored all seven Saks points in overtime as Westminster (15-8) looked worn out by the speed of the Lady Wildcats.

“We just had to play our brand of basketball,” Browning said. “In overtime we knew we could outhustle them to a point and we did.”

The game was overall evenly matched as the stats lined up fairly similar on both sides. Saks would slowly pull away, but just as soon as it did Westminster would come right back and battle for a lead that changed nine times.

“It was a huge win for us,” Saks coach Michelle Lively said. “I told you guys a long time ago that this team is extremely mentally tough. That sets them apart from most teams, and throughout the game I would try and change something and they would say, ‘Coach, we are fine. We have got this.’”

The Lady Wildcats (27-6) were challenged Saturday for the first time since they played Jacksonville in the area tournament a few weeks ago; many of the victories in their ongoing 19-game winning streak have been by 20 points or more. The difference between that game and the regional was the level of talent Westminster played with and displayed over the course of the game.

“That is probably the best ball pressure we have seen all season,” Lively said. “The deciding factor was defense though and my team when they are playing sometimes get a little too quick on offense because they are so comfortable playing defense. So sometimes I have to slow them down so we can take a breath, but overall we just feel very comfortable here at “The Pete” and look forward to playing next week in the finals.”

The Lady Wildcats will play Locust Fork for the regional title Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. They have never won a regional title and as they look down the road they will continue to focus on what they do best – defense.

“Whoever we play will be a good team,” Lively said. “We have to keep an emphasis on keeping pressure on the opposition and play our game which obviously has worked well so far and should continue if we just keep taking it step by step.

“We planted a seed a long time ago with all these players when they were young. Now it’s time to reap what we sowed.”

After her electric performance in overtime, Browning led all scorers with 19 points. Daja Johnson scored 11 with two 3-pointers and Jordan Briskey had 12. Browning and Briskey were a combined 17 of 24 from the foul line.

Westminster had nine players score. Marisa Snodgrass had four 3-pointers and a team-high 15 points. Kate Porter had 13 points and Annie Willis had 12 points.

Saks 61, Westminster Christian 57 (OT)

SAKS (27-6) – Tayler Teague 0-1 0-0 0, Jordan Briskey 1-5 10-14 12, Maiya Northard 1-5 2-2 4, BryAnna Browning 6-10 7-10 19, Daja Johnson 3-8 3-4 11, Talisa Christian 0-0 0-0 0, Miracle Dennard 2-4 1-3 6, Tatyanna Jenkins 3-6 3-7 9. Totals 16-39 26-40 61.

WESTMINSTER CHRISTIAN (15-8) – Sidney Ison 2-6 3-3 7, Kate Porter 5-12 1-2 13, Megan Madison 1-3 0-0 2, Marisa Snodgrass 5-15 1-2 15, Annie Willis 6-9 0-0 12, Kayla McFadden 0-1 2-4 2, Alex Lewis 0-4 2-4 2, Anna Holbert 1-2 0-0 2, Macy Kate Toon 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 21-55 9-15 57.

Saks 8 15 17 14 7 — 61
Westminster 6 15 13 20 3 — 57

3-point goals: Saks 3-8 (Northard 0-1, Johnson 2-5, Dennard 1-2); Westminster 6-21 (Ison 0-3, Porter 2-5, Snodgrass 4-9, Lewis 0-4). Rebounds: Saks 33 (Browning 9); Westminster 36 (Madison 10). Fouled out: Ison. Total fouls: Saks 17, Westminster 27. Officials: Allen Gilbert, Ben Walker, Tony Thomas.

On the cover: Bry Browning (23) came up big for Saks, especially in overtime, in its Northeast Regional victory over Westminster Christian Saturday. (Photo by Stephen Miller)

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