Saks races to big victory, moves on to regional final
by Joe Medley
Feb 25, 2011 | 3042 views |  0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
JACKSONVILLE — Saks coach Michelle Morgan goes into every game with a luxury, and the Wildcats’ speed proved too much for Pisgah in Thursday’s Northeast Regional semifinals.

Addesha Collins scored a game-high 31 points to go with five steals, and the Wildcats pressured Pisgah shooters into 35-percent shooting.

Saks won 61-54 to advance to Saturday’s 4 p.m. final against top-ranked Madison Academy in Jacksonville State University’s Pete Mathews Coliseum.

“I have two or three of the fastest girls, I think, in this area,” Morgan said.

Have speed, will use.

Collins got out on several runouts for a chunk of her points. In the half court offense, she forced Pisgah to chase her with two defenders for much of the second half.

She still dribbled out of trouble and drew fouls on the drive, finishing 15-for-21 at the free throw line. Saks made 19 of 33 freebies, and Pisgah made seven of 12.

Destinee Briskey used her speed to get open for key 3-pointers, hitting four of five en route to 16 points. She hit two big treys after Pisgah closed within 34-29 in the third quarter, and those shots helped Saks push the lead back out to double digits.

On the defensive end, Saks (22-8) was able to get out and bother Pisgah’s shooters. The Eagles (20-7) hit 7 of 18 3s, but several came late, after Saks had built a comfortable lead.

“We had a lot of trouble getting the ball to the rim, and we couldn’t find our spots on the floor,” Pisgah coach Carey Ellison said. “We weren’t able to knock down the outside shots.”

Ella Denes led Pisgah with 16 points, and Dallas Gilley added 12

Saks led by double digits in each of the final three quarters, the biggest lead being a 46-30 spread on a Collins layup at 0:53 of the third.

Pisgah drew within six twice in the fourth quarter, the final time on a Samantha Bryant layup to make it 54-48 with 2:31 left in the game.

Free throws by Collins and Briskey and a Kristan Goodman jumper pushed the Saks lead back out to 59-48 at 1:12, and the Wildcats held on.

Saks moves on to the regional finals, but the Wildcats face a stiff challenge. Madison Academy (32-3) advanced Thursday with a 67-36 rout of Ashville.

Lydia McGee led a balanced attack with 14 points, and Madison Academy forced Ashville into 20 turnovers.

Challenge or no, Saks is in the regional final in Morgan’s third year, and this with a team that has only one senior and two juniors.

“It means a lot because we (the current group of players) never got this close,” Briskey said. “We always got put out during sub-regionals, and when we were younger growing up, the girls always made it to regionals like it was nothing. It’s tradition.

“It’s fun, and I don’t think anybody thought we’d get this far, being so young.”

Joe Medley is The Star’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 256-235-3576 or Follow on Twitter @Jomedstar.
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