Which girls’ teams in the county have best postseason chances?

Published 4:37 pm Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Jordan Lenoir of Thompson has the Lady Warriors primed to make a run in the 7A playoffs, if they can withstand a tough bracket. (File)

Jordan Lenoir of Thompson has the Lady Warriors primed to make a run in the 7A playoffs, if they can withstand a tough bracket. (File)

By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor

Last week we took a look at five boys’ teams with the best chances to make a deep run in postseason play. Now, let’s take a look at a few of the girls teams that could potentially make their ways to Birmingham, if the cards fall their way.


1. Montevallo

Montevallo is currently not even ranked in Class 4A, but the Lady Bulldogs are a powder keg waiting to blow. 16-5 as of Jan. 19, Montevallo has streaked out to one of the hottest starts in the county by playing up-tempo offense and suffocating, full-court defense. Lauren Lilly, the defending Shelby County girls basketball Player of the Year, has played as advertised this year and is averaging right around 20 points per game to lead this Montevallo team. Every Montevallo loss, save for one, has come against schools almost twice its size, and the Lady Bulldogs are 6-0 in area play, winning their area games by an average of 36 points. Montevallo will most likely have to get past either, if not both, Sipsey Valley and BTW Magnet, currently ranked No. 3 and 8 in 4A, for a berth in the 4A Final Four, but the way this team has played to date proves it can play with anyone.


2. Thompson

The Lady Warriors have established themselves as a team perennially in the hunt under head coach Josh Golden. Ranked as high as No. 3 in 7A this season, Thompson is well-coached and has the athletes to play with anyone in the state. With the combination of Jordan Lenoir, Indiah Cohill and Kahyanne Bolton, this Thompson team has pieces both on the perimeter and down low to create problems for any opponent. The problem for this Lady Warrior team? Location. Thompson plays in 7A Area 5 alongside Hoover, which has beaten the Lady Warriors twice this season. Area 5 is matched up in the sub-region round of the state tournament with Area 8, where 7A No. 1 Hazel Green resides. For Thompson to advance to the 7A Final Four, it is most likely going to need to win the Area 5 tournament, which will mean beating Hoover, which would likely lead to a date with Hazel Green in the Elite Eight, where the Lady Warriors will need to play lights out to win.


3. Calera

The Lady Eagles went 25-5 and reached the 4A title game in 2013-14, where they fell to Oneonta by 12 points. Calera was subsequently moved up to 5A the following season and struggled, failing to make it out of the sub-regional round, where the Lady Eagles were beaten by Talladega. This season Calera is 13-9 (3-1) as of Jan. 19, with the only area loss coming against current 5A No. 4 Central Tuscaloosa. Tyesha Haynes, who played a role as a sophomore on that 2013-14 team, is now the main cog in the Lady Eagle offense in her final season and has been a big part of this success for Calera. The biggest challenge to the Lady Eagles making a deep run could very well be Central Tuscaloosa, as there is only one other ranked team (Demopolis, 5A No. 8) that could conceivably stand in the way of Calera reaching the Final Four.


4. Spain Park

Prior to Christmas, the Lady Jaguars held a pedestrian 6-6 record. They had lost by 20 points at home against Thompson, had lost by 23 to 6A Homewood and had lost by 13 to both Lee and Sparkman High Schools. Since Christmas, Spain Park has posted a 6-3 record as of Jan. 19, with one of those losses coming against Hazel Green. The Lady Jaguars have won three consecutive area tournament championships, although that streak is in jeopardy this season with the emergence of a strong Mountain Brook team. The Lady Jaguars will most likely have to beat some combination of Buckhorn (7A No. 4), Gadsden City (7A No. 9) and Mountain Brook to make it to the Final Four. No easy task for sure, but Skyla Knight, Claire Holt and Elizabeth Philpot have helped turn this team into a competitor down the stretch, and will not be an easy out for anyone.


5. Briarwood

With five senior starters, this Briarwood starting group is as experienced as any across the state. Not blessed with tremendous size, the Lady Lions rely primarily on transition buckets and full court defense as their bread and butter. Molly McKenzie, Shelly Proctor and Ellie Tarence have helped lead this Briarwood team to an impressive 15-6 (2-2) record as of Jan. 19. The issue for this Briarwood team, like so many other teams with potential, comes down to geography. Homewood, the No. 1 team in 6A and defending 6A champs, is in 6A Area 9 as is John Carroll Catholic, which currently sports a 16-6 record. Briarwood’s two area losses to date have come to these two, by an average of 33 points. To advance even out of area play, Briarwood is going to have to beat one of these teams, most likely John Carroll, for a chance to play into late February.