Southland Lady Raiders dominate Chambers Academy in season opener – Americus Times-Recorder
DAWSON, GA – The GISA Class AAA State Champion Southland Academy Basketball Team (SAR) got off to a good start in the 2021-22 season when they traveled to Dawson, Ga., And beat Lady Rebels of Chambers Academy (CA) by a score of 61-36 on Monday 22 November, in the first of their two games of the Terrell Tip-Off tournament at Terrell Academy in the first head coach’s debut year of HRH Eric Israel.
Israel is resuming Southland’s women’s basketball program after former SAR girls head coach Ty Kinslow quit his role as Lady Raiders head coach last spring to pursue other opportunities.
It was a game in which the Lady Raiders started slowly in the first quarter, but stepped up their defensive pressure and played strong, tenacious defense throughout the rest of the game. As a result, SAR forced visitors from La Fayette, AL to commit numerous turnovers and scored many of those turnovers. They did a better job in the second half of the block as well, resulting in plenty of points in the paint for the Lady Raiders.
âWe had a bit of a rough start, but we kept telling our daughters, ‘We just have to weather the storm, keep working and get out of it. âWe weathered the storm in the first quarter and ended up taking a one point lead in the second half,â said SAR head coach Eric Israel. âWe talked about defense and blocking before the second half and the second half we really chased him on defense and blocked. They only scored 13 points in the second half. That’s Lady Raider’s defense. That’s what we are doing. let’s talk here.
HRH junior guard Riley Mitchell put on a show in this game. She led all scorers with 30 points and knocked down eight of 12 shots on goal. Junior guard Morgan Weaver scored 12 points and second-year guard Mary Beth Easterlin had eight in the winning case.
The Lady Raiders trailed CA 9-6 at the end of the first quarter. However, SAR started to wake up in the second trimester. In the opening minutes, the Lady Raiders outscored CA 9-6 to tie the score at 15-15.
For the remainder of the first half, both teams played a run and gun style of basketball and both teams used their defensive pressure to create scoring opportunities. However, with the score tied at 15-15, SAR continued a 5-0 run which was capped with a three-run by Julia Caroline Bailey. CA responded with a 7-2 run to tie the game at 22-22 and with 57.3 seconds left before halftime, McKenzie Gilliland gave the Lady Rebels a one point lead when she pulled it off. one of two free shots. However, Riley Mitchell responded by reversing two free throws with 11.2 seconds left to give the Lady Raiders a 24-23 lead at halftime.
In the second half, the Lady Raiders did exactly what Israel and their coaching staff talked about at halftime. Stepping up their defense and blocking they outscored CA 9-3 in the first two minutes of the third quarter and finished that run when Mitchell led to the basket and scored. Mitchell later scored again on the dribble penetration, was fouled and would drive in the foul shot for the three-point play to give SAR a 36-28 lead with less than four minutes left in the third. This sequence of events turned out to be a major turning point in the game.
Then with 2:25 left in the third, Mitchell struck again grabbing an offensive rebound, scoring inside and completing the three-point play by taking the free throw after being fouled.
From that point until the final horn, SAR took full control of the game. The Lady Raiders forced many turnovers and scored on several transition baskets. As a result, SAR would go on to win 61-36.
McKenzie Gilliland led the Lady Rebels with nine points and Claire Allen scored eight. Although the Lady Rebels tried to match the intensity of the SAR, they struggled throughout the game to hit shots and were passed by the Lady Raiders in the second half which turned out to be a determining factor in the outcome of the match.
The Lady Raiders (1-0) will return to Terrell Academy on Tuesday afternoon November 23 to face Piedmont Academy at 2 p.m.