Pirates get big win, in title game

MONTGOMERY | Pickens Academy fought its way into the AISA championship round Wednesday.

The Lady Pirates (25-2) won a physical contest 41-23, eliminating Wilcox Academy to advance to the Class AA championship game at Huntingdon College.

Pickens Academy will play at 6 p.m. Friday in the final against Lowndes Academy.

"This game is about skills and what you can do. There is no finesse anymore," Pickens Academy coach Wade Goodman said.

"You can’t dribble (and swap) hands with them on you so close. But we found a way to win and move on, and that’s all that matters."

The Lady Pirates used an inside combo of Elisabeth Hankins and Marion Colvin to build a 13-point lead at halftime. Colvin finished with 18 points to lead all scorers. Hankins had 10 points.

Colvin spent the better part of the third quarter on the bench with foul trouble.

"This was a lot more physical (than the previous meeting, also won by Pickens Academy)," Hankins said. "It was tough handling the ball outside."

"We had to work a lot harder to get off shots this time," Colvin added. "We are undersized compared to other teams, and they had a big advantage on us."

The physicality led to plenty of free-throw opportunities for both teams. Picekns Academy made 17 foul shots, while Wilcox Academy made just eight.

"We have a game that we play in practice where we have to run if we don’t make our free throws," Hankins said. "I think that paid off today."

It was a horrendous day of shooting for Wilcox, which did not make a field goal in the first quarter. The first one came with 3:44 left in the second quarter by Khaki Gaston. The Lady Wildcats scored just six points in the first half.

The Wildcats (17-7) pulled within 10 points by the end of the third quarter but got no closer.

"Our defense aggravated them," Goodman said. "We used a man-to-man and that worked well for us. We’ve only been using that defense since the midpoint of the season, and I think it paid off.

"I told them, ‘We gave up six points in a half, and when you do that you better win.’ "

Pickens Academy held Wilcox’s leading scorer, Sara Kate Gibbs, to one field goal and a total of nine points. The field goal came with just over two minutes remaining in the game.