MONTGOMERY, Ala. — At Central scrimmages, there are no fouls called.
Coach Carolyn Wright keeps the whistle in her pocket and allows her forwards to do whatever it takes to get position and the ball. The area underneath the baskets usually turns into a flurry of elbows and shoves.
It’s tough, but after a season of it, so are the Red Devils. And they rarely lose an inside fight.
Just ask Sidney Lanier.
In Tuesday morning’s Class 6A Central Regional matchup, Phenix City pushed the one-loss Poets around and controlled the lane. When Lanier point guard Ashley Henley went out with an injury and the outside shooting went cold in the second half, that was a wrap, and Central won 62-47.
“We just had a lot of trouble getting offense after (Henley) went out (with a hip injury),” Lanier coach Steve Holloway said. “She was the second guard injury we’ve had. Sheila Thomas tore her (knee ligament) last week. Without those two, we had a hard time getting into the lane and creating.”
All of the Poets’ offense was left in the hands of leading scorer Taila Arrington, who suddenly became responsible for getting the ball up the floor, creating in the lane and scoring.
It didn’t work.
By late in the second half, the Poets (27-2) were frustrated and simply launching the first shot available. And when those shots didn’t go in, Phenix City’s inside players were gobbling up rebounds.
Forward Monique Jackson had 19 rebounds by herself. The Red Devils won the rebound battle by 13.
“That’s the way we play — we’re used to (being physical),” Jackson said. “You should see our practices. It’s 10 times worse. We’re so used to getting hit that when we get into games, we’re surprised when they call fouls.”
The outcome wasn’t exactly surprising to Holloway.
With two guards on the bench nursing injuries, he was left searching for answers.
“We just didn’t have anyone to spark the offense for us,” Holloway said. “(Arrington) was trying to do it all and it just didn’t work. That’s not her role. It’s disappointing that it ended like this.”
Even with one of the guards on the bench, the Poets were in decent shape. They led throughout the first half and took a seven-point lead in at the break.
When Henley went down early in the fourth period, however, Phenix City (21-8) grabbed the lead and stretched it out. The Red Devils outscored Lanier 26-8 in the final eight minutes.
Jackson led Central with 19 points.
Arrington led the Poets with 31.
Tuesday at Alabama StateSidney Lanier 13 16 10 8—47Central 14 8 14 26—62Sidney Lanier (47) Taila Arrington 31, Henley 5, Scott 6, Webster 2, Lowery 2, Watkins 1Central (62) Monique Jackson 19, Kristi Mokube 14, Karissa Wyatt 13, Watkins 6, Thomas 6, Huff 2, Sanders 2Team records: Sidney Lanier 27-2; Central 21-8. Next: Sidney Lanier’s season is over; Central vs. Jeff Davis, Friday 11 a.m. at Alabama State.