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Pickens Academy cruises into semis

MONTGOMERY | Pickens Academy had what coach Wade Goodman called one of the Lady Pirates’ worst quarters of the season in the Elite Eight round Thursday at the AISA Girls Class AA tournament at Huntingdon College.

Fortunately, the performance in the first half allowed for it in a 47-24 win over Northside Methodist of Dothan.

Pickens Academy moves into the Final Four, where it will face either Coosa Valley Christian Academy or Wilcox Academy next Thursday at 3 p.m. at Huntingdon.

It is the second consecutive trip to the Final Four and the fifth in six years for the Lady Pirates.

"You survive and advance. I don’t care if we win by two or 22," Goodman said. "We played pretty good defense but we struggled offensively. We are a little bit undersized so we have to work a little harder to get off shots. We don’t see a lot of zone so that was an adjustment."

The top-seeded Pirates (22-3) built a big lead in the first half, outscoring the Lady Knights 12-2 in the first quarter. They led 23-7 at halftime.

But sluggish play in the third period allowed Northside Methodist to creep back to within nine points midway through the quarter.

"We like to get the ball in the paint and we did that, but shots didn’t go for us," senior Marion Colvin said.

Any ideas of a major upset were wiped out in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter when the Lady Pirates scored the first nine points and eventually pushed the lead back to 20 in the first five minutes of the period. They finished the game on a 10-4 run.

Many of the baskets came off steals in backcourt. Colvin scored six of her game-high 16 points off turnovers in the fourth quarter. Colvin also lead with 13 rebounds.

"I told them before we went to the fourth quarter — (the third) was the worst quarter we’ve played all year," Goodman said. "We didn’t have many points, but fortunately (Northside) didn’t either. We played good defense and as long as we do that, we’ve got a chance."

Pickens Academy recorded 24 steals.

Elisabeth Hankins had 14 points for Pickens Academy while Kacy Noland added nine points. Casey Underwood led Northside Methodist (9-15) with 11 points.