And aggressive it was.
After leading by only two points at halftime, his Jacksonville girls’ basketball team exploded after the half for 28 third-quarter points to cruise to a 71-40 win over Springville in the Northeast Regional Class 4A semifinals.
With the win, Jacksonville advanced to take on second-ranked and undefeated Oneonta, which defeated Anniston 43-37 in overtime. The winner of today’s 12:20 p.m. tipoff advances to the state finals in Birmingham.
“We were just a little too tight in that first half,” Chambless said. “ … we haven’t played a game since last Friday, only practiced. And they hate practice, because I run them hard.”
While the superior conditioning didn’t show until later, the Lady Golden Eagles’ sharp shooting took center stage early in the second half.
Six seconds in, Virginia Poe set the tone, stripping a 3-pointer. Teammate Lacey Buchanon followed with a steal and layup 22 seconds later.
While the tidal wave of points took a brief hiatus, Jacksonville knocked down two more 3-pointers less than 40 seconds apart near the midway point, and from there, the rout was effectively on.
Before the quarter was done, Jacksonville had taken the once one-point lead and grew it to 22 points with Tamaria Mays’ layup at the third-quarter buzzer.
“… we knew it was coming sometime,” Springville coach Warren House said of Jacksonville’s run. “We rotated poorly on those three 3s.
“You hate to wonder what might have been when you get beat by 30 — we need to keep a team to three or four points — but once they hit those 3s, we were just lax after that.”
Within the first two minutes of the third quarter, Jacksonville attempted as many 3-pointers (3) as it did the entire first half. Chambless chalked that up to the Lady Golden Eagles’ aggressive nature, too.
“We try to take advantage of that when teams play a zone like that,” Chambless said, “and we’re lucky to have some girls this year that can shoot the 3 fairly well.”
Jacksonville was 5-for-11 from 3-point range with Angel Kidd’s pair leading the way.
The Lady Golden Eagles were much more impressive overall, shooting 61.3 percent from the floor in the second half and 55.4 percent for the game.
Springville, meanwhile, shot just 25.5 percent (14-for-55).
“And that certainly didn’t help anything,” House said.
Jacksonville’s strong field percentage came from its pair of powerful players in the post. Kenyatta Ervin and Sharon Osterbind finished with 16 and 14 points respectively and were a combined 15-for-24 from the floor. With the two, Jacksonville outscored Springville 44-14 in the paint.
“They compliment each other real well,” Chambless said of the two juniors, Ervin at 5-foot-10 and Osterbind at 6-1.
Ervin accounted for 13 rebounds (10 on the defensive glass) and four blocks, while Osterbind, the more agile of the two, added five rebounds, three assists and three blocks.
But all that couldn’t happen unless they got the ball, and for the past five years that’s not been a problem for the Lady Golden Eagles. Buchanan, a senior and starter since the seventh grade, used her superior ball-handling skills to pave the way to her game-high 19 points, and the Samford commit also dished out a game-high 11 assists.
Despite a decorated career, Buchanonis only in her second regional trip to the Northeast Regional. She’s played in the venue plenty of times before, each year in the Calhoun County tournament; but Friday afternoon, she was soaking it up in a new light — and looking forward to today’s grand opportunity.
“I really like playing here,” she said.
Bran Strickland is the assistant managing editor for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3590 or follow him on Twitter @bran_strickland.