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Spain Park girls’ basketball knocks off Hoover

Published 4:23pm Thursday, November 7, 2013

By DREW GRANTHUM/Sports Writer

Anyone familiar with the Spain Park girls basketball program knows the Jaguars have a long-standing rivalry with crosstown rival Hoover High.

Unfortunately for the Jaguars, anyone familiar with the rivalry also knows that it’s been a bit one-sided, in favor of the Bucs.

“It’s been since ’05 (since we last won),” said Spain Park head coach Mike Chase, who started before the ’09-’10 season. “Since I got here, the closest we’ve played them in those eight-nine games was 28 points. The largest was 53.”

Not so anymore, after the Jaguars took a convincing 59-51 win over the Bucs on Nov. 5. The Jags jumped out early over Hoover with a 19-10 first quarter. Spain Park took a 25-15 lead into half, and never looked back. Victoria Baldwin led the Jags with 25 points, while Denise Newton had 22 and Elizabeth Philpot had 10 rebounds.

Chase said the confidence that comes from beating a state and national power like Hoover was big for the team’s morale.

“It’s nice for the kids,” Chase said. “I think the big thing is, (that) since ’09, Hoover’s won a state championship or finished runner up (every year). If you go out of state, they’re going to associate girls’ basketball in Alabama with Hoover.”

The win in the opener certainly gives the team momentum headed into the season, but Chase said his squad was far from being content after the win.

“The one thing I was proud of was nobody jumped up in the air (and celebrated),” he said. “I think it’s a great starting point. They’ve been really grounded. You don’t want to get complacent.”

Chase went on to say that between him and assistant coach Donnie Quinn — a former assistant at Hoover — they plan to make sure the team is always pressing.

“I think one of things that’s going to help is they’re never going to have the opportunity to get complacent,” he said. With (Quinn)’s experience and my experience, we’re going to try like crazy to not let it happen.”

The Jags will travel to Gadsden State to take on Oxford on Nov. 16.

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