Smiles common at St. Aloysius|[2/15/06]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Everywhere you turn at St. Aloysius these days, there are smiles.

During a spirited scrimmage. While shooting free throws and chatting with teammates during a water break. Even at the end of a botched layup drill, and while running the suicides that follow.

It’s easy to smile when you’re 26-1 and all is right with the world.

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&#8220We’ve won. We’ve got confidence now. That changes the way we play the game,” St. Al senior guard Annie Beaugh said. &#8220That’s what we have to do. Try not to be serious.”

This season, the best in the history of St. Al’s girls program, has certainly been one to enjoy. The only blemish on the Lady Flashes’ record has been a 49-27 setback against Franklin County – the second-ranked team in Class 3A – on Jan. 7, and St. Al has rocketed in the polls. It is No. 3 in The Clarion-Ledger’s Class 1A poll as the Division 7-1A tournament gets underway this week.

&#8220At the beginning of the year I knew we had the talent to be in this position,” St. Al coach Drew McBrayer said. &#8220A lot of it depends on team chemistry and whether they come to work. They’ve done a good job of doing that.”

The success has already paid handsome dividends for the Lady Flashes. Thanks to a 12-0 mark in the division during the regular season, they clinched a first-round bye in the division tournament and an automatic bid in the Class 1A South State satellite game next week.

The top four teams in the seven-team division tournament advance to the satellite game. With a win in its second-round game against Enterprise on Thursday night, the Lady Flashes will host a satellite game.

&#8220To know you’re already in the playoffs is nice,” St. Al coach Drew McBrayer said. &#8220It’s a reward for all the hard work you’ve done through the season, to win your district in the regular season.”

While St. Al is unquestionably the favorite in the division tournament, its road to the championship is littered with land mines.

Enterprise lost just 57-56 in their first meeting this season, although St. Al did win the rematch by 23 points last Friday. The third meeting is on Enterprise’s home floor.

Beaugh said those games, along with St. Al’s lackluster history, should keep the team from getting overconfident.

&#8220We can’t change what we’ve already accomplished. We’ve just got to stay focused,” she said. &#8220We don’t want to get overconfident. Just take it one game at a time and see what happens.”

While the St. Al girls have had a season to remember, the boys’ team has also been dominant this winter.

Like their counterparts, the Flashes (20-7, 10-2) won the regular-season Division 7-1A title and the automatic bye into the satellite game that goes with it. They will face Bogue Chitto in the second round Thursday night at 8:30 for the right to host the satellite game.

The Flashes have already won 11 more games than last season, and are hoping to improve on that number in the next few weeks – as well as next season. St. Al only has one senior on the roster, Daniel Halinski, and all five starters will be back next year.

&#8220We took our lumps last year, and you’re going to do that last year,” said McBrayer, who inherited a young team when he took over the program in 2004. &#8220As they started to build confidence and win right away (in 2005-06), they built that winning attitude.”