Carver head coach Anson Hundley said he thinks the Class 4A state championship can come to the city of Columbus this season. On Saturday, Hundley and his players can take the next step in making sure they’re the ones who bring it home.
While crosstown rival Columbus starts Saturday’s games at Augusta University against Sandy Creek, Carver follows with a matchup against Cross Creek (26-4). The Lady Tigers enter the matchup with a 10-game winning streak and are intent on soon stretching it 12.
“It’s just been a joy to watch these girls grow and become a team,” Hundley said. “They worked together in order to accomplish one common goal. We went into the season saying that we wanted to win a state championship, and they’ve truly lived by that all year long.”
The team’s playoff run to date has shown it is up to that task. The Lady Tigers have beaten their first three playoff opponents by at least 10 points, with the last being a 10-point victory over Jefferson last week.
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Hundley attributed the Lady Tigers’ resolve in the postseason to former players such as Alexis Burns, Sydney Norris and Dymon Brown, who he said instilled in the younger girls how to win and carry themselves on the court.
Carver has assumed the underdog mantra for most of the season, due in large part to their relative lack of size on the court. But what the team lacks in height, it has consistently made up for in speed and aggressiveness. The Lady Tigers’ tight press defense has been a constant in their victories this season and has taken the upper hand away from even its biggest opponents.
The idea of having something to prove has been fuel for the Carver fire from Day 1. The flame only grew taller once the games became win or go home.
“I tell them that we don’t have the size the other teams have and we don’t have the big-name school, but what we do have is each other and our work ethic,” Hundley said. “Every day, we try to come in and bust our butts in order to be the best team possible.”
In Cross Creek, Hundley sees another bigger opponent the Lady Tigers have to wear down. He said Carver has grown accustomed to being undersized thanks to multiple games with Columbus and Americus, a pair of teams the Lady Tigers were 3-2 against this season.
Hundley pointed to discipline as being crucial for Carver’s chances of beating the Lady Razorbacks.
“We have to play our style of ball,” Hundley said. “We have to dictate the pace and the style of play in order to be successful.”
And on the thought of potentially playing Columbus for a fourth time? Hundley probably didn’t like the idea of game planning against the much-bigger Lady Blue Devils once again, but he did say it could speak volumes about the two teams’ city.
“It would be fun,” Hundley said. “It shows the caliber of basketball that comes through Columbus, if we both could make it.
“As long as we’re in the state championship, I don’t care who we play.”
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports