As survive-and-advance time has begun in high school basketball, the Selma High School Lady Saints dug deep to win a thrilling 32-29 defensive battle against the Hillcrest Patriots on Monday.
The Lady Saints now set their sights on the Regionals with a 12 p.m. tip-off versus Gulf Shores High School at the Acadome on the campus of Alabama State University on Friday, according to the AHSAA website.
The Saints applied relentless full court pressure against the visitors from Tuscaloosa for most of the night and fought from an early 7-0 deficit.
Jitters plagued the Lady Saints as several unforced errors spoiled early possessions. Senior captain Rodericka Parker got the home team going with two three pointers to close the lead to one point. The second quarter was littered with turnovers from both teams as they combined for only 5 points. The Patriots led at halftime 11-9.
Offensive play picked up in the third period as Aeraonna Manuel began scoring in the paint to compliment Parker.
“We bumped heads at halftime, I told her she needed to step up and play the way she knows how to, and she did,” said Parker.
The two battled K. Brown of Hillcrest who dominated all night in the lane, scoring 21 of the Patriots’ points. Hillcrest led until Parker hit a corner three off an inbounds play late in the period and the Saints never trailed again. Manuel stole a pass in the backcourt and drove for a layup that gave Selma a 22-19 cushion.
Big defensive plays by sophomore guard Alexis Walker created scoring opportunities for Selma on the fast break. Walker’s assist to Parker after a steal put the Saints up 27-24 at the 2:51 mark and the Saints converted 5 out of 7 free throws to seal the hard-fought victory.
Parker led in scoring with 16 followed by Manuel 10, adding 9 rebounds.
“My girls played hard all night and never gave up. Parker leads by example, Manuel is so determined, the sky is the limit for this young lady, and Walker is like that fly that won’t leave you alone, constantly causing problems for ballhandlers,” said Coach Will Morgan.