“And a little child shall lead them.” Prophetic writings from biblical scripture that came to pass Friday at the AHSAA Southwest Regional semi-finals when the Selma Lady Saints basketball team defeated Gulf Shores 39-32 at Dunn-Oliver Acadome in Montgomery.
Though not a little child, freshman forward Saryah Pope led the Saints in scoring and provided a boost for the Area 3 champions as senior all-state candidate Rodericka Parker struggled to score. Gulf Shores adjusted their defense to limit Parker’s shot attempts, so Pope and Aeraeonna Manuel took over inside. The Duo combined to go 9 out of 15 from the field finishing with 11 points each and Manuel led all rebounders with nine.
“It felt good to help my team. I was a little nervous at first playing here, but when we started scoring, I calmed down and my teammates found me cutting for some easy buckets,” said Pope. Parker finished with 7 points and 8 assists. Senior guard Takeirra Chappelle came off the bench and provided outstanding defensive pressure and grabbed 4 rebounds
Gulf Shores scored inside early and took a 5-0 lead as the Saints struggled to find their nerves and range. Senior Renari Wells hit a long three from the left wing to calm the Selma squad and Manuel stepped up inside to score off feeds from Parker and relentless work on the offensive boards.
Pressure defense from Selma forced numerous turnovers and the Saints raced out to a 25-11 halftime lead. The Saints, now 21-5 never trailed but let Gulf Shores close the gap to single digits with a 12-3 fourth quarter.
“We caught them off guard with a soft 1-3-1 defense, something we really hadn’t done all season long,” said coach Will Morgan. “In the fourth quarter, we let our guard down a little and let them get back in the game. That’s something we’re going to work on, but the thing is we’re moving on and looking forward to the next round.”
The Saints advanced to the Elite 8 and will take on Northridge of Tuscaloosa at 2:15 p.m. Wednesday on the campus of Alabama State University with their sights set on returning to the Final Four.