The Spring Garden girls head basketball coach finally may have found said alternative last Tuesday (Feb. 20) at Jacksonville State.
Along with Paige Anderson and Bridget Parris, senior center Nicole Ledbetter reached the double figure mark in the Lady Panthers 68-38 victory in the Class 1A Northeast Regional Tournament semifinals.
Anderson finished with 24 points, followed by Parris with 21 and Ledbetter with 11.
We definitely need that third girl to step up and provide some points, said Austin. Paige and Bridget have carries a big load for us offensively, and any third person is a luxury for us right now. Sometimes this season its been Paige, Bridget and our defense as the top three scorers.
No. 3 Spring Garden (27-6) had little trouble in earning its sixth straight regional final berth.
Parris and Anderson scored 17 and 12 points, respectively, in the first half en route to the Lady Panthers 24-7 lead after one quarter and a 38-17 advantage at intermission.
Ledbetter notched eight second-half points as the Lady Panthers went ahead 55-27 after three periods.
Anderson shot a perfect 8-for-8 at the foul line, with Spring Garden converting a stellar 88 percent (11-for-13) for the night.
By contrast, the Lady Falcons (12-12) came away with only two points on eight free throw opportunities.
Parris grabbed eight rebounds, followed by Ledbetter with seven and Anderson with six.
Parris came up with five steals, while Anderson had four. Anderson also handed out eight assists.
The most telling statistic was the turnover margin, with Spring Garden finishing with a 29-12 edge. For the game, the Lady Panthers scored 32 points off turnovers to Donohos seven.
We didnt want to get into a halfcourt game, which would have favored Donoho, said Austin. We applied full-court pressure and got some turnovers and got some easy baskets. We wanted to stay in the transition game and keep the ball moving. You really need to get some easy baskets early on in this type of game to get your confidence up. Having so much experience here is also very important. The girls couldnt wait to get down here because they know that they always shoot well here.
No Lady Falcon reached double figures in scoring, with Carrie Brown leading the Donoho cause with eight. She also had 10 rebounds.
Part of our game plan was to deny Carrie the ball, said Austin. We wanted a defender in her face at all times. We thought that she might shut down our inside game, but when Carrie looked up we wanted her to see Paiges hands.
Spring Gardens final roadblock to a sixth straight Final Four appearance is a formidable one, as the Lady Panthers face No. 2 Gaston in Fridays championship. Game time is set for 3:40 p.m.
Spring Garden and Gaston split their regular season series 1-1, but the Lady Bulldogs posted a 54-46 victory over the Lady Panthers in the Area 13 tournament title game and are coming off an 42-point win over Jacksonville Christian in the other regional semifinal.
Gastons a very good team, and you want to say that whoever the best team happens to be on Friday will win, said Austin. Weve just got to put ourselves in that position. Weve been on a collision course all season for this game, and its finally here.
SPRING GARDEN (68): Anderson 24, Parris 21, Ledbetter 11, Mobley 6, Barnes 3, Lambert 2, Malone 1.
DONOHO (38): Brown 8, Barber 6, May 6, McMillan 6, Crawford 4, Childers 3, Issiac 3, Turner 2