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Published Feb 12, 2012
Central finds offensive groove, takes area title from Opelika
When B’Kiya Webb’s teammates feed her in the post, they know she’s looking to get a shot up.
As the Red Devils’ leading scorer at more than 15 points per game, they would expect nothing less.
But when Opelika double- and even triple-teamed Webb at times during Saturday’s area championship game, it took a while for her teammates to get used to a new strategy for beating the Bulldogs’ man-to-man defense.
“They know with me, when I get it in the post, it’s going up,” said Webb, who won the tournament MVP with averages of 18 points and 11 rebounds. “Now that I see how they’re doubling down, I pass the ball to my teammates, and they’re not used to it.”
After early turnovers put Central on track for a season low in points at halftime, the Red Devils clicked offensively in the final two quarters and came away with a 57-48 victory to win their third straight area championship.
No. 5 Central (30-1) extended a school record for wins set in Thursday night’s first-round game against Smiths Station.
“I told them at the beginning of the year, ‘Teams are going to be
coming at you. You’ve got to start with your defense and let your offense
come from your
“They bought into it, and it carried them this far.”
Central’s defense was the only thing keeping it in the lead during a first half that ended with a 23-20 Red Devils advantage.
Central pulled away in the third quarter.
After the Red Devils had already started a 7-0 run, Ericka Lane came off the bench and scored 3 the old-fashioned way before nailing a 3-pointer from the corner.
Webb added two more to complete a 15-2 run and give the Red Devils a 41-25 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“We knew (Opelika) wasn’t going to come over here and just lay down,” Wright said. “We had to bring our ‘A’ game, and we had to correct some of our mistakes.”
Opelika (23-5) cut the deficit down to 9 with just less than a minute left after Emma Garner hit back-to-back 3-pointers, but the Bulldogs ran out of time.
Opelika fell victim to many missed layups throughout the second half as Central pulled away.
“We had the looks, we just couldn’t get them to fall,” Opelika head coach Devin Booth said. “We just weren’t confident offensively to take the easy shots.
“This was a big game. It’s for the area championship — it’s something you want for your kids. We’re disappointed in that, but we are excited about the next game, and we’re going to keep working.”
The Bulldogs will go on the road to play the winner of Monday’s Enterprise-Northview game in the sub-regionals, while Central will host the loser of that game.
Webb finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and four blocks, and Yasmine Thomas finished with 14 points and shot 8-of-8 from the free throw line (6-of-6 in the fourth quarter).
Bethany Howard led Opelika with 17 points and seven rebounds.
Thomas, Howard, Central’s Jimecheia Banks, Opelika’s Gabby Clifton, Auburn’s Brittany Strozer and Smiths Station’s Sierra Booker joined Webb on the all-tournament team.