Familiarity with Tuesday’s opponent won’t be nearly the problem for Rutherford girls basketball coach Allen Kelly as it was last week.
The Lady Rams, 12-7, play at perennially strong Rickards, 15-10, in their Region 1-5A semifinal 6 p.m. CST. Knowledge of the opponent is both good and bad in this case.
Kelly knows the Raiders will exert pressure from baseline to baseline, which was evidenced with 15 steals in their 67-40 quarterfinal win against Bay last Thursday. Rutherford was dispatching Suwannee, more of an unknown to the Lady Rams, 62-36 at the same time.
Rickards, like Rutherford dominated by underclassman, is led in scoring and rebounding by junior Shannon Owens. She had 15 points and eight rebounds versus Bay, with junior Gabby Figgers adding 14 points and three assists and senior Alexis Nelson 10 points.
Rutherford, seeking its first region championship berth in a season of program breakthroughs, is powered by junior forward Marsheba Addison. Like Owens, she leads the Lady Rams in scoring and rebounding.
Addison received ample scoring support in the region quarterfinal win with Alisha Williams and Tatyanna Bell both in double figures.
Elsewhere, Class 1A schools also begin region semifinal play Tuesday after being idle last week due to the smaller number of schools in that classification.
Defending state champion Ponce de Leon is among the area schools seeking to advance. The Pirates, 22-5, host Port St. Joe 7 p.m. Tuesday. Cottondale plays at South Walton in the other half of the 3-1A bracket.
“There are three other good teams, we’ve still got a lot of work to do,” PDL coach Tim Alford said.
The Pirates returned starters Jo Carlson, Ashley Harper and Jordan Thomas from the team that won the inaugural Rural title last February. They were bolstered by the transfer of Hannah Howell from Holmes County, who along with Harper has been a scoring leader much of the season.
Alford said a hamstring injury to Harper was part of the reason for his squad suffering through a 2-4 stretch after the holidays.
“We were real cautious with her,” Alford said of Harper, confident that she is healthy for a possible postseason run. “We struggled to score some” without Harper in the lineup.
South Walton, he said, has the most size of teams in the region and can present a frontline of 6-foot-1, 6-foot and 5-11. The Pirates are formidable up front, and Alford said he team can go as deep as 10 players.
One of the keys for PDL is point-guard play. The Pirates have been using a rotation of August Brown, Brittany “Bit” Chapman and Carlson, depending on the opponent or situation.
Other area schools still surviving include Holmes County, a Final Four team in 2012, district champion Chipley and Malone.
Region semifinals on Tuesday involving area girls basketball teams. All time are 7 p.m. local.
- Region 1-5A:Rutherford at Rickards, Paxon at Nease.
- Region 1-4A:Walton at Florida High, Raines at Ribault.
- Region 1-1A:Holmes County at Paxton, Malone at Chipley
- Region 3-1A:Port St. Joe at Ponce de Leon, Cottondale at South Walton