03/02/11 — Defense is calling card for Cougars, Seahawks

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Defense is calling card for Cougars, Seahawks

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 2, 2011 1:47 PM

Take care of the ball is the message Goldsboro head coach Latina Bullock-Davis and Southside head coach Bill Lake have stressed to their team in practice this week.

They'll see how well it's been received when the teams meet today in semifinal-round action of the 2011 N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A girls' eastern basketball regional. Tip-off is 7 p.m. at Crown Arena in Fayetteville.

Fifth-ranked Southwest Onslow and 2010 regional runner-up South Robeson meet in the other semifinal. The winners play at noon Saturday with a trip to next weekend's state championship at N.C. State on the line.

"We have to come out ready to play from the jump ball," said Bullock-Davis. "The momentum has to be there, the focus has to be there. The last couple of games we've won, we've started out slow and by halftime we've started to pick things up.

"They're excited, but even with a very young team, they already know what it is that we've got to do ... take care of the basketball and play defense."

Goldsboro and No. 6-ranked Southside each rely on their defense to jumpstart their offense. The Cougars (22-4 overall) average 6.5 steals a contest, while the Seahawks pick their opponents for 13.7 steals.

"If we don't run, we're not going to win," said Lake. "We do everything defensively ... zone, full-court man, half-court man, trap. We evaluate what we see (in a game) and (think) how in the world are we going to stop it.

"Not having height in this game can really be a detriment. You have a hard time on the boards, you have a hard time getting the ball underneath for a really good shot."

Katisha Hyman has emerged Southside's leader this season. The 5-foot-5 junior guard averages 17.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists and five steals a game. Chante Painter and Quaneika Thomas score 9.1 and 7.6 points, respectively, per contest.

Thomas collects seven boards per game.

Southside (22-3) has three players who are 5-11 and the rest range from 5-3 to 5-9.

"Hyman finds a way to get it done, is a really neat player to watch," said Lake. "We're not very big, we're just kind of a lucky team with a lot of kids who have accepted and really taken to heart the roles they've got to play.

"We teach our kids that everyone has to be able to dribble and everyone has to be able to shoot. Depending on what night and what defense you see, you'll see a different person shooting the ball."

Goldsboro has three players averaging 11-plus points this season -- Brandy Johnson, Kasheika Wallace and Alexus Myles. Johnson hands out nearly four assists a game, while Wallace is the top rebounder with eight per outing.

Myles grabs four boards a contest. Teammate Talaya Lassiter contributes nine points and 3.7 rebounds.

"(Offensive balance) has been the key to our success," said Bullock-Davis. "Because of that team effort and family base we have established this year, that's why we are where we are now. It's been everybody, even from the last person who comes off bench, whether they get two minutes or 30 seconds.

The Cougars have won 16 of 17 games since late December, and will attempt to become the first Carolina 1-A team to win a regional championship since Farmville Central in 2004.

"I told them we're making history," said Bullock-Davis. "It's not even about me, but about you and what you have accomplished this year. I'm just a little part of it and I'm glad to be a little part of it."