Marengo Academy falls in title game


By Graham Dunn

Special to The Tuscaloosa News

 

MONTGOMERY | The setting was familiar for two-time defending champion Lakeside.

For Marengo Academy it was a new experience and at times, it showed.

The Chiefs took a four-point lead late in the third quarter and never looked back on the way to the AISA Class A girls state title with a 54-45 win over the Lady Longhorns on Thursday at Huntingdon College.

It was the third straight championship (the last two were in Class AA) and fourth in the last five years for Lakeside (29-5).

The Chiefs were playing with many of same starters that won it all a year ago while the Longhorns were making their first appearance in the championship game.

"I think there were some jitters considering this was their third straight time to be in a championship game and our first," Marengo Academy coach Danny Stenz said. "They beat us on the boards. I thought going in we would outrebounded them but they got after it. They did a good job of blocking out."

Lakeside built as much as a nine-point lead in the first half but Marengo Academy fought back to lead by a point, 22-21, at the break.

The Longhorns were unable to build much of an advantage due largely to the efforts of Lakeside’s Kasey Grant, who was held to one field goal in the first half. But she began to dominate inside in the second, scoring 15 of her team-high 17 points.

"She was tough to block out," Stenz said. "We were working to guard her inside but she was really slippery. She got some key offensive rebounds for them and that really hurt us."

Marengo Academy point guard Chandler Stenz kept her team in the game with pinpoint shooting from the outside. She nailed three 3-pointers and led all scorers with 19 points. She also had the unenviable task of guarding Lakeside’s quickest player, Jasonie Guice.

"She was so hard to guard because she is quick and can go either way with her dribble," Chandler Stenz said. "I kept needing help when she went to the lane."

Marengo Academy (25-3) had its chances after Lakeside built an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter. The Longhorns pulled within four and Stenz had three free throws with a minute to play. She made just one of the attempts.

On the other end, Guice missed three of four foul shots in the final 40 seconds but Lakeside managed to get offensive rebounds on each of the back end of the attempts.

Smyly played much of the second half in foul trouble and finished with 10 points. Andrea Edmonds added eight for the Longhorns.