Their pressure man defense came up with 12 steals and made White Plains’ every trip down the floor an adventure, and Piedmont advanced with a 50-35 victory Thursday.
The Bulldogs (15-7) will play Jacksonville today at 7 p.m. in Jacksonville State University’s Pete Mathews Coliseum.
“We’ll have to play well,” Piedmont coach Matt Deerman said. “They’re as well-balanced a team as I think there is in this whole tournament.”
Tonight’s winner will play Anniston or Saks in Saturday’s 6 p.m. final.
Thursday’s game came down to what Piedmont did on defense.
“They were much tougher in that man defense,” White Plains coach Chris Randall said. “We crumbled. Live-ball turnovers killed us. They took the ball from us and laid it up.
“I thought we guarded pretty good. If you take away the live-ball turnovers, but you can’t. Their defense set the tone, and we never adjusted to their toughness defensively.”
Turnovers led to points, especially for Piedmont’s BreAnna Thompson and Sarah Garner. Thompson finished with a game-high 17 points and nine rebounds.
“BreAnna got after it,” Deerman said. “She’s got the quickness of a guard in a post body, and she gives people fits because of her athletic ability and strength. She got several steals in the fourth quarter and turned around and shot layups.”
Garner, sister to Piedmont boys’ standount Sloan Garner, finished with 16 points.
“I’ve never had two players with the offensive skills they (Garner and Thompson) have that play so hard on both ends of the floor,” Deerman said. “They’ve been our two most consistent players.”
Piedmont also outrebounded White Plains 25-13.
“I thought that was huge,” Deerman said. “They’ve hurt us on the glass in the past, and that was something we really wanted to focus on. I thought we did a good job not giving up too many second shots.”
White Plains (11-11) trailed throughout the game. The Wildcats fell behind 18-8 on Kayla Allen’s basket in the post midway through the second quarter, and the spread was 26-14 at halftime.
Piedmont built as much as a 46-24 lead in the fourth quarter.
Taylor Snellgrove led White Plains with nine points.
“Taylor Snellgrove off the bench knocked down some shots, and Liv Taylor battled on the glass,” Randall said. “I thought she competed every trip.
“I liked the way we ended. We didn’t quit. The girls we played at the end played until the buzzer went off, and I was really proud of that.”
Joe Medley is The Star’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 256-235-3576 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @jmedley_star.