After she scored just three points in the first quarter — and the Lady Yellow Jackets built a three-point lead — Glencoe’s student section decided to make the pint-sized point guard the object of heckling the rest of the game.
They likely would’ve done better to exercise their right to remain silent.
Collins finished with a game-high 26 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter, to the lead the Lady Wildcats to their first Northeast Regional appearance under third-year coach Michelle Morgan.
“When people call you ‘ballhog’ it kind of makes you mad,” Collins said. “I definitely heard that. So, of course, I just tried to get my teammates involved, because that’s what you’re supposed to do, especially, when they call you ‘Ballhog’.”
It all started in the second quarter.
Collins was dribbling the ball at the top of the key when the Glencoe faithful tried to get in her head, chanting, “Shoot it, shoot it.”
The 5-foot-3 junior granted them their wish, hitting nothing but net on the first of three triples to pull her team to within three at 21-18 with 2:20 before the break.
It ended with Collins getting the last laugh and Saks’ student section shouting, ‘M-V-P, M-V-P’ toward the end of game.
She stroked a pair of free-throws with her team up three and 3.9 seconds remaining to seal the deal.
“I know she’s going to be the smartest player on the floor,” Morgan said of Collins, who connected on 6 of 16 shots and 11 of 14 free throws. She also added six rebounds, three assists and two steals.
“That’s what I kind of told them, to get the ball into Addesha or Destinee’s (Briskey) hands because they’re my best free throw shooters. I have several leaders on the floor in Taylor (West) Addesha and Destinee. They know what I expect, and they carried it out.”
Saks (21-8) will face Pisgah in the semifinals of the regional tournament Feb. 24 at Pete Mathews Coliseum in Jacksonville.
“It’s really amazing. It’s something I’ve wanted for three years and I finally got it,” Morgan said. “I really think I’ve got an amazing, talented group.
“I think a lot of people underestimate us because we’re young. I’ve got one senior. I start two juniors and everybody else is sophomores and ninth grade.”
Briskey scored seven of her 13 points in the first quarter to keep the Lady Wildcats in the game, trailing 13-10. She also added seven rebounds and three steals.
Morgan said she switched defenses each time the Lady Yellow Jackets made a substitution in the third quarter. It created the turnovers that would get them out of a nine-point hole and tie the game at 32, going into the fourth.
West, one of eight sophomores on the Lady Wildcats’ roster, scored just five points but came up with 15 rebounds and six blocks. Her layin off the offensive glass with 7:26 to play in the fourth gave Saks its first since lead since the 2:37 mark of the first quarter.
She swatted away a layup attempt from Glencoe’s Laura Poovey with 6.8 seconds to set up Collins’ final free throws.
Poovey led Glencoe with 13 points.
“It feels great when you have a crowd,” Collins said. “Our student section was the best. That’s what got us real crunk.”
Nick Birdsong covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575. Follow him on Twitter @birds_word.