ALBANY —It was “all systems go” for girls basketball at Albany High on Monday night.
A large, boisterous crowd in the stands, ‘The Queens’ (a group of ladies from the AHS faculty and staff) welcoming fans in the lobby, a faux ESPN desk in the corner, writers for three newspapers, and a TV crew set the stage as the homestanding Hornets took on a young Parkview Baptist team which was coming off its first playoff win.
In the end, seventh-seeded Albany (23-6) used its tenacity and experience to break open the game. The Hornets cruised to a 62-38 win in the regional round of the Class 3A playoffs. Seniors MeMe Sykes and Ferretta Brown players are looking for another trip to the Top 28 tourney and they played with a passion against the 10th seeded Lady Eagles.
The 6-foot-2 Brown dominated the inside with 20 points, nine blocks and nine rebounds. Sykes was close behind with 19 points, reeling off seven of the Hornets’ final 10 points.
“MeMe and Ferretta are about 80 percent of our offense and our rebounding. We always try to get the ball inside to (Brown),” Albany coach Stacy Darouse said. “If we can get it inside early, it sets up everything from the outside. We were also fortunate to get it inside and get No. 35 (Megan Hutch) in foul trouble.
“Our goal was to rebound. We felt like Parkview was the best rebounding team we’ve played and we weren’t thinking anything but rebounding. If we can get into transition that’s our best chance to score, and we were lucky Parkview missed some shots early and we were able to keep them off the boards and we were able to hit some shots.”
Madison Peters added 12 points for Albany, including two 3-pointers, all coming in the second half.
Brown credited the home crowd with helping motivate her team.
“Most teams aren’t as used to the size of the crowd and the noise, and I’ve been playing my whole high school career with it and it makes it easier,” Darouse noted.
She also found one more plus in Monday’s win.
“Now we’ll get to play the team (Ville Platte, which beat Albany last season, is playing Iota on Wednesday) that knocked us out last year,” the AHS coach said. “Our goal this year is the state championship.”
Parkview (23-8) gave up size and experience, and stayed within striking distance for a half behind the long range shooting of Skyler Goodwin and Morgan Douglas. Douglas drained two 3s in the first quarter and finished with eight points, while Goodwin had a hot second quarter when she scored nine of her 16 points.
“(Experience) absolutely had a lot to do with it,” said first-year Parkview coach Jessica Shelton, has no seniors in her starting lineup. “We were coming off our first girls playoff win ever, and now the girls have to decide how far they want to go. We’ve played good teams before, but this is a little different format. We’ll be better prepared next time.”
Albany led by 15-8 after one quarter, 33-21 at halftime, and broke to a 21-point lead, 47-26, on Peters’ layup with 3:30 left in the third quarter.