She didn’t, scoring just nine points, seven fewer than her season average and 15 less than the number she put up the in the Northeast Regional final.
But her teammates did.
Junior post players Sharon Osterbind and Kenyatta Ervin both posted double-doubles as the Lady Golden Eagles downed the Lady Patriots 53-42 at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.
As they had done against previous opponents, Midfield implemented a box-and-1 defense, to freeze out the opposing team’s best perimeter player, in this case Buchanon, a Samford signee.
“We watched film and we saw, some players, they run a box-and-1. In practice, we work on shooting a lot and I saw, on film, they were leaving a lot of spots open where our shooters shoot,” Buchanon said. “And I knew coming into this game, I told Sharon and Kenyatta this game is going to be big for y’all. Y’all are going to have to attack.”
The 6-foot-1 Osterbind and the 5-10 Earvin combined for 31 points and 22 rebounds. Osterbind scored a team-best 18 points and pulled down 12 boards while Ervin had 13 points, on 5-for-8 shooting from the field and snatched 10 off the glass to lead the Lady Golden Eagles to Saturday’s 9 a.m., state championship game where they’ll face Andalusia. Andalusia beat Good Hope 66-54 in the
other semifinals matchup Wednesday afternoon.
Buchanon played the role of distributor for most of the night finishing with six assists to go along with two steals and a pair of rebounds.
Should fifth-ranked Jacksonville (30-4) win it all, they’ll be the first girls basketball team from Calhoun County ever to win a state title in basketball. The Lady Golden Eagles blew out Springville in the semifinals then upset previously unbeaten and second-ranked Oneonta 51-44 in the Northeast Regional final, where Buchanon was named Most Valuable Player.
“When we got the regional championship, I said, ‘Hey y’all we got a shot at this thing’,” Jacksonville coach Ryan Chambless said. “We come out of probably the toughest region, I think, where a lot of the top 10 teams in 4A girls were.”
Things couldn’t have started much worse for the Lady Golden Eagles.
By the 3:35 mark of the first, Chambless had to sit both Buchanon and Osterbind, who’d been whistled for two fouls apiece. But his troops held down the forth without their best inside and outside on the threat playing the quarter to a 6-6 draw.
The Lady Golden Eagles fell behind by a bucket late in the second quarter before freshman Virginia Poe went on a mini scoring spree with a couple 3-pointers and a free-throw to account for all of her offense on the night. The spurt gave her team a five-point lead at 18-13 heading into the half. In the third, Osterbind asserted herself in the paint, scoring nine as Jacksonville increased its lead to 35-24, heading into the fourth.
“At halftime, Lacey told me what I needed to do.,” Osterbind said. “I was trying to get the lob beforehand. Then, she told me I need to get in front because I’m big. Then, I could just do what he had practiced. I could just drive to the basket or do the drop step. It was really what Lacey and Coach told me wound up working.
Midfield’s star, Alabama signee Jasmine Steele, scored 30 points but did so on 11-for-42 shooting, firing up a lot of difficult jumpers. No other Lady Patriot scored more than four points. LaToya Wilson pulled down 16 rebounds.
Jacksonville won the points in the paint battle 30-14.
“That’s kind of where I thought we might’ve had an advantage was inside on them,” Chambless said. “I told them that the past two days. I thought our posts were able to score more than theirs and if it was an advantage we had that was it.”
Nick Birdsong covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575. Follow him on Twitter @birds_word.