“It is good to be in the sub-regionals,” Childersburg head coach Johnny Johnson said. “Handley is going to be a good quality team coming in. I heard scouting reports on them that they play good defense and they are well coached. I am just happy to be in the sub regional right now. I hope we can get out of there and get to Alabama State. That is another goal we are trying to get. It has been a long time since they have been out of the sub-regional tournament, so that is the goal.”
Johnson has four seniors that haven’t made it past this point in the season. He said he challenged his seniors to put an end to the nine-year streak.
“I try to tell them that you have been here for a long time and the monkey is on your back,” Johnson said. “I told them let’s see if we can get started this year for the program. I told them if they get it started things will follow, so everyone can know we get that monkey off of our back.”
The Lady Tigers (18-8) used a fourth quarter rally to defeat Dallas County, 41-24 in the Class 4A Area 6 tournament. Johnson said his team’s defensive intensity was the difference in the game.
“I think we are going to have to come out and play good defense,” Johnson said. “I tried to tell them that defense wins ball games and when we have the opportunity to go to the free throw line we have to make them. In the area championship game, we came out in the second half and played intensity defense. That is what won it for us. We got up and down the floor. We have to push the ball, shoot well, play defense and make free throws.”
Johnson said his team has struggled offensively at times this season and that was evident on Saturday. Childersburg only scored three points in the first quarter and only managed to score 11 points in the half. Johnson believes if his team plays good defense throughout the whole game their offense will finally get going.
“We played good defense, but we couldn’t score,” Johnson said. “It has been like that all year for us. We get good looks under the basket and we don’t finish. We go to the free throw line and we don’t finish. I tell them to keep playing defense and your offense will come. If we can stop them from scoring, it will come for us. We have to be able to slow them down. In the first half we didn’t score any points, but in the second half we start making our layups and shots on the inside. Our defense was a lot better in the second half.”
Senior Mac Kelley played well for Childersburg all season, but on Saturday she exploded for 23 points. Johnson believes if his team plays defense and Kelley plays like she did on Saturday that they are a hard team to beat.
“She has to play good,” Johnson said. “Like I told her this is her senior year, just play ball and turn it loose. You don’t have anything to lose. This is it for you; turn it loose. She had 23 points; she scored all of that in the second half. We know she can play if she turns it loose.”
Kelley believes that making easy baskets is one of things that Childersburg has to do if they want to advance to Alabama State.
“I had a good game,” Kelley said. “My shots finally went in the fourth. We played good defense the whole game. We made simple mistakes, like missing easy baskets under the goal. As long we knock those shots down and play good defense we will have a chance to advance.”
Johnson hopes that the students, parents and the community will come out to support the Lady Tigers tonight.
“I hope everyone in Childersburg comes out and supports us at 7 p.m.,” Johnson said. “We need a big crowd to pump the girls up and have a crowd into the ball game.”