The Palestine Ladycats shocked many when they upset District 20-4A number-one seed 84-68 Monday night at Nacogdoches High School.
Even more so when they raced out to a 9-2 lead before carrying a 24-9 advantage into the second quarter.
“We should be well-prepared and better be focused,” head coach Nicole Anderson said laughingly. “It'll be a different test altogether from what we saw a couple nights ago. But we'll be ready to go.”
China Springs presents a bigger matchup size wise than what the Ladycats saw against Jasper. The Lady Cougras have a pair of 6'1 players they can throw out against a Palestine team who made a living on the offensive glass and in the paint against Jasper.
Most of Ay'Lashia Fantroy's 14 first-quarter points came from aggressively penetrating Jasper's interior defense. Her aggressive mentality has made her a force to deal with in the paint, but has also resulted in early foul trouble for the sophomore guard.
“It's a matter of being more disciplined defensively,” Anderson said about Fantroy's foul troubles. “She's still a young player learning how to play on the high school level. It was her first playoff game. I don't want her not to be attacking. Sometimes you get called for offensive fouls for being aggressive. I'll take that.”
Coach Anderson expects to see more half-court zone from China Springs tonight instead of a full-court pressure. Regardless, Palestine's attacking mentality won't change. It's what allowed them to take control in the first and fourth quarters against Japer. And they'll look for that to be a strength tonight.
“It doesn't matter what anybody is doing if we handle our business,” Anderson. We need to be the aggressors on offense and gang rebounding on the defensive end. The pressure of rebounding can't be on one person.”
It was surely a gang effort from their unit on the glass on both sides of the court Monday. Fantroy, Ja'Mya Reeves, Ja'Na Johnson and Ka'Zem Wood all had their hands in creating second chance opportunities.
Palestine will continue to lean on their young guards, Fantroy and Reeves, who combined for 36 points in round one. The uniqueness of the two is in their ability to play multiple positions, which creates a disadvantage for teams trying to matchup against them.
“Which piece of the poison do you want to take,” Anderson said. “[Opponents] have to decide who to guard. It's fun and unique to coach. It's not often you have two young players with that much versatility.”
The Ladycats have been practicing with their “Special Force,” which is their scout group who allows them to simulate some of the intensity and physical nature of the game.
“We've discussed doing something that hasn't been done in a long time.” Anderson said. “Also, we can't be satisfied. We haven't accomplished what we should accomplish yet. The expectation is to win playoff games. It's not a bonus. We're suppose to win.”
Palestine will tipoff at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Navarro Community College.