By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
The Killeen Lady Roos and the Lancaster Lady Tigers know little about one another. The two teams have not traded film and the coaches are scrambling to talk to anyone that knows anything about the other.
In the absence of scouting tangibles, both teams will be relying on what got them into tonight's bi-district basketball playoff game at Corsicana High School in the first place.
"I told the girls that we can't prepare to stop Killeen," first-year Lancaster head coach Beverly Lockett said. "We can only prepare to play our game. We've been trying to get them ready and teaching them to be confident with what we do."
The Lady Roos (16-16) will have to do it without sophomore standout Breanna Shaw, who is sidelined with a season-ending leg injury.
In the district finale, senior Elise Kea, sophomore Imani Dunn and Shaw's replacement, senior Ja'Neece Quinones, got it done against Waco University to get them into tonight's 8 p.m. tip-off against the District 15-4A runner-up as 16-4A's third-place team.
It's the third straight year that Lady Roos' coach Latisha Rosemond has taken the team to the playoffs, but the trip every year has led to only a long bus ride home.
The Lady Tigers (19-6) started 6-0 this season before falling 61-45 to now top-ranked Fort Worth Dunbar at the Lone Star Invitational tournament a month before the 15-4A opener. In their final three nondistrict games, the Lady Tigers went 2-1, only losing to now third-ranked Dallas Kimball on Dec. 1.
The Lady Tigers beat Midlothian in the 15-4A opener, fell to No. 19 Arlington Seguin three days later and then entered the Dallas ISD Coca Cola Tournament on Dec. 28, and it was there, Lockett said, the Lady Tigers turned the rest of their season in Lockett's new direction.
"It takes all 11 players to make it work. That seemed to be lacking before," Lockett said. "Of course you're going to be more successful when you're playing together."
With key step-up roles by junior Jericka Jenkins, senior forward Britney Kinney and senior post Lakeisha Burkes, the Lady Tigers went on an 8-1 run after the DISD tournament, including four-straight to end their regular season with only the two losses to Arlington Seguin.
Lockett describes Kinney as the defensive leader, but she is also a presence on the offense. She's averaging 11.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. Burkes is the Lady Tigers' post presence. At 6-1, she's responsible for 8.6 rebounds a game and being in the way of penetrating guards and forwards.
But Jenkins, who averages more than 13 points and three assists a night, is the key.
Killeen junior Jasmine Pitts will need to have a big defensive night against Jenkins and the Lady Tigers' backcourt.
Freshman Jasmine Baugus will have to get her offensive putbacks to fall. Both Baugus and Quinones will also be key in the paint fighting for rebounds and keeping Lancaster's size advantage from giving the Lady Tigers second- and third-chance scoring opportunities.
Dunn, Quinones and Kea have to have repeat nights of the district finale, and sophomore Dejanae Fountain has had key double-digit nights before; the Lady Roos will need her to find another tonight.
The Lady Roos will have to find consistency from the free-throw line. The Lady Roos shot 15-of-27 from the stripe against University and charity could be Lancaster's easiest defense.
Control is the Lady Tigers' gameplan for tonight's match-up. The Lady Tigers look to control the tempo of the game and control the ball. Lockett admitted, though, that the gameplan has hurt them in the past when one of the two strategies went awry.
For the Lady Roos, Rosemond hopes the 2 hour bus ride to Corsicana – a court that Lancaster has already seen at least once this year with Corsicana High School also being in District 15-4A – won't distract her team's focus.
"It's a long way to go plus all the playoff excitement. I don't think there's any excuse. If you want it, you're going to go get it, it doesn't matter where the gym is."
Contact Kevin Posival at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7562