By Thomas Sellers Jr.
On Feb. 25, Munford Head Coach Steve Poindexter had making history on his mind.
But only ahead 8-7 after one quarter in the Region 7-3A Semifinal contest against the Hardin County Lady Tigers, the third-year leader of the Lady Cougars started to think history was repeating itself.
But instead of playing sluggish for an entire half like they did in last year’s Regional Semifinals against Bartlett, the Lady Cougars opened up a 10-point lead by halftime leading to a 44-26 win and the Munford girls’ first trip to Sub-State in school history.
“It feels pretty good,” Poindexter said of making history. “I wasn’t so sure there that first quarter. I thought, am I reliving last year. They came out tight, like they were a little nervous. Once we shook that off and started getting some stops on defense, things started going our way. We relaxed a little bit and we had some girls make some big shots.”
The Lady Cougars mades some big shots a year ago to overcome a large halftime deficit against Bartlett. But Munford’s comeback fell short in overtime.
In the 2013 Regional Tournament, the Lady Cougars entered the Brighton Gymnasium as the favorite to win the title. Things started shaky with Munford behind 13-11 in the second quarter.
Then the Lady Cougars tied the game at 13-13 with a pair of Robneisha “Bird” Lee free throws. The Lady Tigers regained the lead at 14-13.
Munford took the lead for good when Lee scored on a three-point play to make the tally 16-14. Then one of the “big shots” Poindexter talked about occurred when Lauren Zvolanek drained a three-pointer to make the score 19-14.
After a pair of Bird foul shots, Turner concluded the first half hitting a three-pointer to make the score 24-14 at the break.
Early in the third quarter Munford extended its overall run to 16-0 making the score 29-14. Then the Lady Tigers showed some fight with back-to-back triples making the score 29-20.
“Alex Turner comes off a screen and drained one that I knew was clutch,” Poindexter recalled. “They made two and she came down and hit one to answer it. I think that was big. That was the game.”
Turner’s three-pointer from the top of the key made the score 32-20.
“I”m just glad they went in,” Turner said of her shots.
Munford was ahead 32-22 entering the fourth quarter. The beginning of the final period was time for Kierra Webb to hit the big shots. The point guard scored four points for the Lady Cougars making the score 36-22.
After a Hardin County bucket, Turner hit another three-pointer to ice the game at 39-24. Turner, Zvolanek and Webb concluded the game with foul shots.
“Going into this I told our kids, ‘It’s going to be done with the little things,’” Poindexter said. “I don’t care what stage you’re on, this is a basketball game. The team that consistently does the little things for 32 minutes is going to win the game. For the most part we did that.”
Morgan Willoughby led Hardin County with 8 points. Two Lady Cougars reached double figures with Turner and Lee scoring 10 each. Zvolanek added 9 points and Webb contributed 8.
The victory reserved Munford a spot in the Regional championship game Wednesday night a date for Sectionals Saturday.
“I’m hoping now they will relax a little bit now getting over the hump,” Poindexter said. “Wednesday is going to be very important. It will be awesome to host the Sub-State game. These kids have been waiting on this game for a year because they felt like they didn’t play anywhere close to our potential in this game.
“Everything we’ve been doing has been building up to this,” he concluded. “They might have over-thought it a little bit. But once they relaxed and started playing, it took care of itself.”