The 2nd Region girls tournament will continue tonight in Princeton, with two semifinal games. First it will be Madisonville-North Hopkins vs. Henderson County at 6 p.m., with Webster County and University Heights Academy taking the court afterwards. Both semifinal games look destined to be great ones, so I’ll tell you a little bit about each one.
North vs. Henderson
A week ago, I would have penciled in Henderson for the championship game and likely have them as the winner. They are ranked in the top three in the state and haven’t dropped a regional game, after all. But after seeing how the Lady Maroons dominated Livingston Central last week, I could see this game being a close one.
North was clicking on all cylinders in their first-round game over Livingston, going up double-digits early and up by over 25 in the third quarter. The Lady Maroons had 20 steals for the game, with 8 coming from Shaniya Whitsell.
North had a balanced attack in the game, with five players scoring in between 10 and 15 points. I especially like how coach Brent Gibson has used Adarian Gray recently, the Lady Maroons’ leading scorer for most of the regular season who was put into the sixth-man role recently. She’s able to provide a big spark off the bench, and scored 15 points on Wednesday.
How North can handle Ellie Fruit and Maci Brown will be perhaps the biggest factor in the game. Fruit is arguably the best player in Region 2, averaging 18.5 points per game. The two of them are most dynamic from outside, as they have knocked down 116 3-pointers between the two of them this year.
The Lady Maroons shut down Livingston center Hailee Lampley last week, but trying to stop the guard combo of Fruit and Brown is a whole different story.
The two teams played last month in Henderson, with Henderson blowing out what was a close game until the fourth quarter — winning 62-41.
Webster vs. UHA
When the brackets came out two weekends ago, this was the potential game I immediately became the most excited about. It was a nail-biter the last time the school’s met, as Webster edged UHA 52-51 to claim the 2nd Region All “A” championship.
But the Lady Blazers haven’t lost since then, grabbing 12 straight wins. Meanwhile, Webster has seemed vulnerable — beating Caldwell County by four points on Thursday, a week after a double-overtime win over Union County.
The Lady Trojans were down eight points to Caldwell in the fourth quarter, but 19 turnovers forced by Webster was able to outdo their sub-par field-goal percentage for the game (21 percent).
Webster’s shooting is certainly their Achilles’ heel, and a percentage above 30 percent will be a must for tonight. The defense has carried Webster this year, but UHA has one of the best offenses in the region, so they won’t be able to rely solely on that. Their 1,791 points scored this year is the most in Region 2.
In their current 12-game winning streak, the Lady Blazers have won 11 of the games by double figures.
North and Henderson start play at 6 p.m. tonight, with Webster and UHA starting around 7:45. I’ll be at both games and will be providing live updates of the games on my Twitter account, @Mike_Stunson.