Lady Flashes attempt to rebound in tourney

Published 11:32 am Monday, February 6, 2012

It’s been five years since the St. Aloysius Lady Flashes escaped the division tournament and went on to play in the Class 1A playoffs. Once again, they’re one win away from ending the drought.

The Lady Flashes open the Division 7-1A Tournament on Tuesday at 4 p.m. against Piney Woods. The two teams split the season series with each winning on its home court. The winner is guaranteed a spot in next week’s Class 1A South State satellite game. For St. Al, getting that far would mark the first time since 2007 that they’ve done it.

The division tournament is at Natchez Cathedral. St. Al’s boys’ team, which went 1-21 this season, will play its first-round game against Hinds AHS (13-8) at 5:30.

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First-year St. Al girls coach Cookie Johnson gave her team a couple days off last week in hopes that it could recharge the batteries after a three-game losing streak to close the regular season.

“They needed to clear their minds,” Johnson said.

The Lady Flashes had won three in a row to reach eight wins. They then lost winnable games at Piney Woods and at home to University Christian before finishing with a blowout loss to the tournament’s top seed, Hinds AHS (21-4). The winner of Tuesday’s game plays Hinds on Thursday at 4 p.m.

Johnson said a good start is a must against Piney Woods.

“In the first game, we started off well and built a good lead,” Johnson said. “In the second game at their place, we started off slow. We couldn’t make our free throws and they jumped on us. We were down 20 early in the quarter and got it down to 10 by the end of the game.”

St. Al junior center Ellie Welp said the setting at Piney Woods was strange.

“It was like playing on a stage. It was pretty uncomfortable,” Welp said. “I’m glad we’re playing at Cathedral. I like their gym.”

The Lady Flashes picked up four division wins this season to earn the fourth seed in the six-team division. The top four teams in the tournament advance to the Class 1A South State satellite round. Getting there would make this season that much better.

“I feel good about what we’ve done this year,” Welp said. “To get to this point is something we’ve worked hard for.”

Johnson said her team has made progress.

“We’ve gotten a lot better and I’m proud of their progress,” Johnson said. “We’re now at a point where every game counts. We just have to focus on Piney Woods.”