Central's pressure declaws Lady Wildcats

Tuscaloosa County’s Kendra Conner tries to drive past Central’s Jerlissa Matthews, who had six steals and led all scorers with 25 points Tuesday night. (Photo by Erin Nelson)

NORTHPORT | When the first half ended Tuesday night, the Central High School girls basketball team had a seven-point lead, but coach Michael Rivers wanted some adjustments made.

The Lady Falcons stepped up their defensive effort and pulled away for a 72-52 victory at Tuscaloosa County.

In the second quarter, Central’s Shawntayla Harris made a jump shot, and teammate Jerlissa Matthews converted a steal into a three-point play for a 29-22 lead. Toborsha Holley scored 14 points in the third quarter, and the Lady Falcons built their lead to 52-38.

"I told them at halftime that we had to pick up our defense," Rivers said. "We were missing too many layups. We wanted to get closer to the ball to apply the pressure.

"A key component of what we wanted to do in the second half was to deny the inbounds (pass) so we could force them in the direction we wanted them to go to make quick steals.

"We were trapping and playing the passing lanes, which led to easy layups. Most of our points in the second half were off layups. We told everybody on the team, ‘No more jump shots. Attack the basket and stay in the press.’ Our press eventually wore them down."

Matthews scored a game-high 25 points and made six steals as the Lady Falcons improved to 15-2. Holley scored 18 points, 16 in the second half. D’Leisha Dent had eight points, Harris seven and Angelica Weatherspoon six.

Dent collected 11 rebounds and blocked two shots.

Katie Krout and Shakirra Thomas scored 17 points each to lead the Lady Wildcats (11-6). Kendra Conner had seven points.

"The difference in the third quarter was we just couldn’t get the ball out of the trap," TCHS coach Jacob Haas said. "We tried different things to throw the ball in and kept making stupid turnovers. If you give them the ball that close to the basket, it’s two points."

Central plays at McAdory on Friday. TCHS plays at home Friday, facing Hillcrest.


Reach Andrew Carroll at andrew.carroll@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0223.