E.A. Sports Today

Back in the finals

Spring Garden uses defense, early outside shooting to offset Elba’s height advantage to reach girls 1A title game; Welsh surpasses 1,000 points

Spring Garden’s Neely Welsh drives on Elba. Welsh scored 30 points and went over 1,000 for her career. (Photo by Greg Warren)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today
When Spring Garden coach Ricky Austin passed the Elba team his was playing today in the hotel lobby on the way to the game he got a little nervous. The Lady Panthers were going to be at a definite height disadvantage.
But they went with what has worked in the past, and it worked well this time.
They found Macy Reedy early and created a bunch of points off turnovers and rolled to a 56-35 win in the Class 1A semifinals at the BJCC. They will play St. Luke’s in Thursday’s 4 p.m. title game. St. Luke’s edged Mars Hill Bible 60-58 on Elizabeth Roebuck’s layup at the buzzer.
The Lady Panthers (34-2) will be seeking their seventh state title and third – all in even-numbered years – in the last five years.
“I just appreciate this group of girls being business-like on this thing,” Austin said. “That’s kind of how they played today. They just came in and processed things. They were very business-like and I thought that’s how they handled the game. They just kind of took what was there for us and took advantage of it.
“We’ve got a lot of kids who’ve stepped on that floor for the first time and I thought they handled things very well as far as just sitting back and taking what was available.”
Reedy hit a pair of 3-pointers early to get Spring Garden (34-2) going. The Lady Panthers outrebounded taller Elba 38-33 and outscored it on points off turnovers 26-0.
“That’s the design every night, we want Macy to get 3-pointers,” Austin said. “They came out with a diamond-and-one on Ace (Austin) and then quickly went to Macy after she hit a shot. Always by design every game we hunt Macy. We expect her to knock down some shots and she did a good job. The tight D on her just the lane up for Neely to go to work.”
Neely Welsh took advantage of it, scoring 30 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. She also went over the 1,000-career point mark. Reedy had nine points on three 3-pointers. Ace Austin had seven points, five rebounds and seven steals.

Spring Garden 56, Elba 35
ELBA (23-7) –
Jarlyn Barker 5-9 0-0 10, Nina Williams 2-10 1-1 6, Melissa Williams 4-5 0-0 8, Breanna Sanders 1-6 0-0 3, Freeda Hooks 4-11 0-1 8, Danajean Flowers 0-0 0-0 0, Celeste Edwards 0-2 0-0 0, Yada Caldwell 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-43 1-2 35.
SPRING GARDEN (34-2) – Ace Austin 3-10 0-0 7, Macy Reedy 3-9 0-0 9, Kayley Kirk 1-11 0-0 2, Alexis Adkison 1-3 0-2 2, Neely Welsh 14-21 2-5 30, Abbie Woods 0-1 0-0 0, Bri Boles 0-0 0-0 0, Sarah Kate McKay 1-4 0-0 3, Abbey Steeward 0-1 0-0 0, Breanna Rogers 1-3 1-2 3. Totals 24-63 3-9 56. 
Elba                       6    11 10  8    –  35
Spring Garden    16  14 15  11  –  56
3-point goals: Elba 2-9 (N. Williams 1-3, Sanders 1-3, Hooks 0-3); Spring Garaden 5-25 (Austin 1-4, Reedy 3-9, Kirk 0-6, Welsh 0-2, Woods 0-1, McKay 1-2, Steward 0-1). Rebounds: Elba 33 (Barker 8, Sanders 8); Spring Garden 38 (Welsh 11, Rogers 7). Total fouls: Elba 10, Spring Garden 10. Officials: Rasely, Hamilton, Hawkins.

Spring Garden’s Breanna Rogers drives to the basket through Elba’s defense. (Photo by Greg Warren)

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