Lowndes Academy girls advance to AISA 1A Varsity championship

Published 5:30 pm Wednesday, February 8, 2023

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Lowndes Academy varsity girls will advance to the Alabama Independent School Association 1A championship game Friday, after shutting out Wilcox Academy in a 51-18 win on Wednesday.

The Rebels victory was earned during the AISA State Basketball Final Four tournament held at Cramton Bowl.

Lowndes varsity girls coach Matt Marshall said the Rebel girls came to win and had the championship in their sights the whole time.

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“We expected it this year,” Marshall said. “Just like we said in our team meeting, we didn’t come to play in the championship; we came to win it.”

Tipoff began early, just before 9 a.m., with both teams eager to see which would secure a spot in the championship game. Lowndes scored the first game points, leading 19-3 at the end of the first period.

“Our goal was to get in the championship game and try to win it, not win the final four game,” Marshall said. “That wasn’t the main goal. That was just a roadblock. Our girls did a great job today, coming out early and executing. It set the tone for how the rest of the game was going to go.”

At halftime, the Rebels pulled away, ending the period ahead of Wilcox 33-10. Near the end of the third period, that lead increased to 46-10.

Michael Smith, Wilcox girls’ varsity coach, said the Wildcats valued the chance to play in the final four game.

“It means a lot to these girls,” Smith said. “It’s been a while since they’ve been here. They are a very young group of girls and they fought very hard so it means a whole lot just to be able to put them to play here today.”

Marshall said Haley Briggs, number 22, played a strong game and led the way to a Rebels victory.

“Haley Briggs really stepped up,” Marshall said. “She was big for us. We felt like part of the game plan was Haley was a mismatch for them. We ran some set stuff to her early and then our guards did a great job of finding her throughout the game.”

“Molly [Powell] and Haley are always our two upper scorers. Molly did a good job on defense. She did a good job distributing and getting all this going.”

Emily Lambert, Wildcat number 24, and along with Marley and Hadley Henderson, numbers 2 and 5, played well throughout the year.

“All those girls have been playing a lot, and they’ve been playing very well,” Smith said. “It has helped me this year and I appreciate their hard work. We need to get back in the gym and work a little harder, work on ball handling, rebounds and defense and try to get back here next year.”

Marshall said the Rebels are eager to challenge Crenshaw Christian Academy in the championship game at Cramton Bowl on Friday. The game is scheduled for tipoff at 9 a.m.

“I feel like the girls are on a mission,” Marshall said. “They’ve bought into what we’re trying to do.”