Saturday, March 8, 2008

2A Girls Championship Game - Paideia vs. Wesleyan

Final impressions
Paideia was a bit of a surprise to make it this far, but can take a lot away from this playoff season in which they defeated powerhouse Randolph-Clay to get to the finals. Wesleyan, in my eyes, cements a dynasty in girls basketball, and get this: they only lose ONE SENIOR, Carter Johnson (who, after her spill in the second quarter, was fine, by the way). Preseason No. 1, anybody?

Fourth quarter
79-40 is your final score. The Wolves win their fourth title in five years.

Aneesah Daniels hits two free throws for Paideia with 30 seconds left. She has been the star for the Pythons.

Credit to the Paideia fanbase, which was loudest at the end of the game. The Wolves fans were also really enthusiastic about seeing their reserves get into the game for the final minute and a half or so.

Maybe the prettiest play of the game: Judean Hanks of the Wolves lobs the ball for a stationary Hall, who jumps, catches the ball, and lofts up a nice eight-footer all before coming back down  

Paideia's star center Kaci Palmore, who we haven't heard much from in this game, gets a layup. With 2:43, she gets another one. Hopefully the senior can get a few more points before her career is over. Score is 71-34. 

Very quietly, Anne Marie Armstrong is having herself a heck of a championship game. But Erin Hall is showing me that she can carry a team with her long-range shooting. She just drained another deep, deep trey at the 4:30 mark. Next Wolves possession she hits another one. Unbelievable.

Third quarter
A pretty sizable crowd is already settled in to watch the Wesleyan boys take on East Laurens right after this one. On a completely unrelated note, what looks to be one of the girls team's managers is on the bench wearing an all-white suit. Looking good, man. Looking good.

Armstrong with another swat. The Wolves are slowing things down a little bit on offense, but the defense is as intense as ever. Abraham scores another two down low for Paideia, however, and Walker follows with a layup on the next possession for the Pythons. The deficit is still at 34

Alex Abraham, 5-10 sophomore for Paideia, gets the hoop and the foul. She hits the free throw for the old-fashioned three-point play. The Pythons turn on the pressure after the made free throw, but Wesleyan breaks the press and Baughn draws a foul. 59-24 with the free throws.

Timeout Wesleyan at the 3:39 mark. Jan Azar didn't like the offense, apparently, which was stagnating a little bit. Hard to complain with a 34-point lead, however.

Speaking of Erin Hall, she just hit a 3 from beyond the NBA arc. Impressive. It's 52-19 in the first few minutes of the third. A minute later, it's Hall again from deep.

Halftime impressions
Armstrong is the best player on the court, but it's Wesleyan's guard play and outside shooting that's dominated the game so far.

There is one girl (or several girls, it's hard to tell) in the Wesleyan crowd that scream their heads off during every Paideia free throw. The rest of the student section just covers their ears.

Asked a Wesleyan parent if Erin Hall is related to Chad Hall, former Wolves basketball and football standout who just finished his collegiate football career at Air Force. The two are cousins.

Second quarter
Paideia's Alana Pulliam hits one of two free throws to make it 43-17. At the VERY LAST, and I mean VERY LAST second of the half, Wesleyan's McKenzie hits a layup to make it 47-17. Paideia will absolutely have to find more offense than Aneesah Daniels if they want to put up more points in the second half. But you'll have to excuse me for a second; I can't hear myself think because of the ovation the Wesleyan boys just got as they ran on for a shootaround.

Wesleyan's Carter Johnson is down momentarily, shaken up after a run-in with Paideia's Daniels. With a little help, she makes it to the bench. It's not a leg injury; just looks like she took a shot.

Hall with another trey, score is now 41-13 with a minute and a half remaining in the second.

Paideia's Daniels gets a transition layup, but Wesleyan strikes right back with an easy bucket from Chantel Kennedy. They can really punish you for not getting back on defense. The score stands at 31-9 with 3:36 left in the half.

Armstrong with a HUGE block on a Paideia big on one end of the flooer, beginning a fast break that she ends off a rebound and put-back.

I don't have the exact numbers in front of me, but I believe Armstrong is 0-2 from the floor. Wesleyan just has more weapons at their disposal than Paideia. As I type this, sophomore Judean Hanks hits a three to make it 26-7. After a steal on the inbounds, Armstrong gets the ball down low and gets fouled. She makes one free throw to push it to 27-7. 

This Wesleyan team is deadly from the outside. Sophomore Erin Hall is the latest Lady Wolf to show off a very effective jumper, making it 23-6 with a 15-footer.

Wesleyan gets the ball at the start of the second, and Grace Leah Baughn ends up getting free for an easy layup. Whether Armstrong is trying to post up or hanging around the perimeter, she draws attention.

First quarter
Paideia has made it very clear what their defensive strategy is: double team Armstrong. They're denying her the ball, alright, but are getting killed from the outside. Paideia center Aneesah Daniels takes a hard fall, but steps to the free throw line. She misses both, but after a scramble for the rebound, ends up taking the last shot of the quarter, an airball three. Paideia will try to regroup after a rough first period. 17-6 Wesleyan.

Another sweet jumper from McKenzie makes it 15-2, and a layup from Hayley Hughes makes it 17-2. 

FINALLY! Paideia gets on the board with a layup, but not after Wesleyan scored the game's first 13 points. 

Paideia better be careful; they're down 11-0 to start the game and just turned the ball over. Timeout Pythons.

McKenzie with another nice 3-pointer. She's got a great looking shot. Armstrong can run, pass and rebound. She's very versatile. 

Wesleyan's Aysia McKenzie hits a jumper for the first points of the game. 3-0 Wolves.

Anne Marie Armstrong easily won the tip. Both teams look a little too eager at the start of the game, as they are missing a lot of shots and playing a little sloppy. I think they'll settle down once they ease into things.