Now 23-5, Ranburne meets Sand Rock in the Northeast Regional tournament at Jacksonville State’s Pete Mathews Coliseum Wednesday at 6 p.m.
“We try to control the tempo. We don’t want to get into a running game,” said point guard Gracie Ayers. “We’re not going to force the ball. That’s why we take our time passing the ball.”
Against Vincent’s 2-3 zone, packed tightly on the inside around scoring leader Julia Daniel, Ranburne passed and looked inside then passed and looked again. As the speed of the passes and the movement inside increased, more often than not someone was alone under the goal. Ayers finished with a team-high six assists but fellow seniors Amy Lovvorn and Lindy Green had four apiece as did junior Jordan Young.
Lovvorn attributed their success in finding each other in a position to score to the years they have played together.
“This team has the most chemistry of any team I have ever seen,” she said.
Vincent stayed with Ranburne for most of the first quarter thanks largely to the scoring of Kiara Cohill. Cohill had three field goals and seven points over a three-minute span midway through the quarter. Her final bucket cut the Bulldogs’ advantage to 13-11 with 2:14 to play. Daniel, who had seven points in the first quarter, scored from the block with 16 seconds left and broke a three-minute scoring drought for Ranburne. The Yellow Jackets turned the ball over immediately and Ayers hit a 3-point basket just before the buzzer for an 18-11 lead.
“That 3-pointer at the end of the first quarter, that was big,” Ranburne coach Tim Smith said later.
Daniel stayed hot in the second quarter, scoring nine of her team’s 17 points. Cohill was scoreless in the second and Vincent managed only five points.
A relentless rebounder, Daniel started an 11-1 run by grabbing her own miss and scoring on a put-back. Another offensive rebound and put-back by Daniel capped the run and earned Ranburne a 35-16 halftime lead.
When Daniel picked up two quick fouls early the third quarter and did not score in the second half, there was no panic. Lovvorn tallied 12 of her game-leading 18 points after halftime.
“When Julia’s inside, I really don’t have to worry about scoring much,” Lovvorn said. “When she gets in foul trouble, I’m put under more pressure.”
“Amy stepped it up tonight,” Smith said.
Junior Leah Mobley also contributed in Daniel’s absence with seven points in the second half and nine in the game. Ranburne led 53-27 after three quarters.
Daniel had 10 rebounds in addition to her 16 points. Ayers had 10 points and three rebounds. Mobley and Lovvorn also had three boards.
Cohill had 18 points for Vincent but was the only Yellow Jacket in double figures.