Before the Region 6-AAA girls championship game, St. Pius coach Kyle Snipes wore a worried look. His Golden Lions had seemed a step slow in the semifinals the previous night and were preparing to play a team they had already beaten twice.
It took no time for those concerns to be allayed. St. Pius scored the first 12 points of the game and easily went on to beat Decatur 51-35 to win the region title.
“At the walk-through they came in with a more business-like approach and it carried into the game,” said Snipes, whose team had already beaten Decatur by 13 and 14 points during the regular season. “This validates their hard work.”
The No. 3-ranked Golden Lions (25-3) got a tremendous offensive effort from Jasmine Carter, who scored 24 points, including four 3-pointers. Asia Durr added 13 points, including a buzzer-beater from well past midcourt to end the first half.
But Durr’s main contribution was on defense, where she spearheaded the effort to stop Decatur standout Jordan Dillard. With Durr bearing the brunt of the responsibility and others taking a turn on an assortment of switches, Dillard was limited to 13 points.
“We wanted to have a fresh kind on her at all times and make her work for everything she got,” Snipes said.
St. Pius successfully forced No. 8 Decatur (21-7) into a half-court game and away from the transition style in which it thrives. The Pius defense prevented Decatur from even taking a shot until nearly three minutes into the game and the Bulldogs trailed 14-1 after the first period and didn’t score a basket until a couple minutes into the second quarter.
“We wanted to make it hard of them to score in the first half,” Snipes said.
Both teams will host first-round games next week. St. Pius will play the No. 4 team from Region 7-AAA and Decatur will play the No. 3 team from that region.
Consolation game: Blessed Trinity 58, Woodward Academy 40
The Titans (15-13) outscored the War Eagles 19-8 in the second period to break the game open. Sophomore Kirsten Green scored 17 to lead Blessed Trinity, which also got 12 points from Ellen Schlich and 10 points each from Natalie Kile and Grace McNamee. Woodward Academy (18-10) was led by Tiana Grissom with 17.