By SCOTT TYLER
H-P Sports Editor
Even with nine games left on the schedule both Palestine and Westwood head girls’ coaches know that Tuesday’s game between the two city of Palestine teams could make or break the season.
“If we want to be in the playoff picture we have to win,” Westwood head coach Wade Holder said.
Before Friday night, Palestine and Westwood were tied for fourth in District 21-3A with 2-2 records. Diboll, Crockett and Huntington all were 4-0 while Rusk, Central and Hudson all were winless in district.
But the middle of the district changed when Palestine defeated Rusk 45-8 and Westwood lost to Crockett 62-43.
The win over Rusk puts Palestine in sole possession of fourth place but after the game at Westwood Tuesday, the Ladycats will have to play Diboll, Huntington and Crockett.
“It is still a long season but a win over Westwood would help us control our own destiny,” Palestine head coach Andy Snider said.
Unlike last year, when Palestine swept the two games at a neutral site, this year’s two games will be played at the two high schools. Tuesday’s game will be played at Panther Gymnasium.
“We need to be able to win at home,” Holder said. “There is nothing like playing at home.”
Snider also likes that the games will be played at the two home gymnasiums because last year’s games both felt like road games.
“It was nice to play in Jacksonville, but it was still a road trip,” Snider said. “This makes it easier just having to go across town for a road game.”
Westwood will look to reverse its fortune at home after the Lady Panthers have lost their last three games.
Palestine has been on the other side of the spectrum, winning its last three games after only winning one game on the season.
“The girls are coming around and are sticking together,” Snider said. “They are not looking at their overall record, and when they started to just play basketball, good things started to happen.”
Both teams played in the TVCC Tournament before the holiday break in December, but Snider thinks his team is a different squad then what Holder was able to scout during the tournament.
“We are coming together and starting to see what happens when we play as a team,” Snider said. “At the beginning of the season, we were playing as individuals, but we have matured quite a bit and now are playing as a team.”
Both coaches note that the Ladycats have the height advantage Tuesday with post players Allison Reed and Tajan Snowden.
“We are going to have to try to get them in foul trouble,” Holder said. “We have to try and not worry about their height and just play our game.”
Holder also noted it would be important to keep Palestine off the offensive boards.
“We need to be physical, which we have been doing so far,” Holder said. “We need to keep a body on them, block out and attack the ball.”
In Palestine’s last two wins, the Ladycats have been able to use their advantage to dominate inside. In a win against Hudson, Reed established herself inside, scoring 22 points.
“We have a simple offense and we are going to take what the defense gives us,” Snider said.
While Palestine has the height size, the Lady Panthers have more team speed, which Snider said is where the adjustments will have to be made.
“We are going to do some things on defense which will try to get them out of their game plan,” Snider said. “We need to be disciplined on defense.”
Holder said the Lady Panthers will use their quickness to spread the court and press at some point in the game. But with only seven players on the varsity team, Holder said he cannot press during the whole game.
“Depth is a problem for us so we will try to run at some points but not all the time,” Holder said. “We also have to make sure we do not get into foul trouble.”
While depth is a factor for Westwood, he has been pleased with the play of his bench — Brandie Coffman and Chasity Yarbrough.
“They have done a great job off the bench, as we use them as much as possible to keep everyone fresh,” Holder said.
Scott Tyler may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com
By SCOTT TYLER