SHS seeks to control tempo in regional battle

Published 6:08 pm Wednesday, February 29, 2012

CHOCOWINITY  — Tonight’s NCHSAA 1-A East Regional semifinal matchup between Southside and Southeast Halifax features two teams with similar personnel but vastly different styles and whichever team imposes its will on the other will likely keep its quest for a state title alive for at least one more game.
Led by star senior point guard Katisha Hyman, No.5 Southside (27-3) prefers to play more of a transition game that allows Hyman to blow past defenders for quick buckets or dissect defenses with her pin-point passes.
No. 3 Southeast Halifax (23-3, Tar Roanoke) relies on its talented senior floor general Sekethia Williams to conduct the offense, and while the Trojans are capable of running the floor, they prefers to get in their halfcourt offense and run more sets.
“I think they’re more deliberate than we are,” Southside coach Bill Lake said. “They’ll want to go halfcourt and sit there and work the ball around and try to wear our defense down so they can get a nice easy hoop.”
The point guard battle should be a great one as both Hyman and Williams lead their team in points and assists per game and were named player of the year in their respective conferences. On the season, Hyman has posted 15.7 points and 4.6 assists per game while Williams has tallied 23 points and six assists per contest. With that in mind, there’s no doubt guard play will be a tremendous factor in the outcome of tonight’s contest.
“The point guard play, especially with girls, is a big issue, so is guard play in general,” Southeast Halifax coach Enoch Hood said. “If you don’t have good guards you can’t get to this level. They’re the leaders on the court and everything you run has to go through your guards.”
So far the Trojans have been able to make teams play their style of basketball as they have won despite not scoring over 50 points in two of their three playoff games, while Southside has broken the 50-point barrier in all three of its postseason matchups.
In order to play up-tempo basketball, Lake said forwards Deandria Purdue and Kyajia Mourning, the team’s top two rebounders, must continue to clean up the glass.
“We can’t let the game become a slow down game and if we can’t get the ball after (the Trojans) first shot and get it out they’re going to back it out and run their play and eat clock,” Lake said. “It will be like putting our feet in concrete.”
While both teams have strong point guards they also have quality point-forwards who serve as secondary ball-handlers.
Senior Chante Painter plays that role for Southside and is second on the team in scoring and assists with 11 and 2.1, respectively, but is also fifth on the team in rebounds with 5.9 boards per game.
Playing point-forward for Southeast Halifax is senior Takwelya Battle who leads her team with 12 rebounds per game while averaging eight points a night.
“She’s pretty much like a point-forward and she’s my No. 2 dribbler and she relieves a lot of pressure off Williams,” Hood said. “She averaged about 15 or 16 points last year. This year her points dropped but her basketball IQ and her court vision has picked up.”
Another critical factor in tonight’s game is how quickly each team adjusts to the atmosphere in Fayetteville’s Crown Coliseum as well as its college-sized court.
Last year the Seahawks were admittedly a little wide-eyed during their semifinal defeat at the hands Goldsboro but this year the group is hoping it’s better for the experience. Lake said whichever team adapts the fastest to its surrounding will have an advantage.
“The X-factor will be who adjusts to the bigger venue. We’re playing in the Coliseum which holds several thousand people and we’re used to playing in places that might hold a few hundred,” Lake said. “Who can adjust and play their game and get comfortable faster will really be an X-factor.”