Isabella girls ride defense into title game

Published 3:24 pm Friday, January 5, 2018

It is said that defense wins championships, but for the Isabella girls basketball team it helped them earn a trip to the 2018 county championship following a 53-27 route of Jemison in the semifinals on Jan. 4.

The Mustangs traditionally play a pressure style of defense, which Jemison proved to have no answer for.

Thanks to the pressure, a majority of Isabella’s points came in transition following a turnover.

“It was clicking for us defensive,” Isabella head coach Jared Day said.

Isabella continued to crank up the pressure, which led to shutting out the Panthers in the first quarter and establishing a 21-0 lead.

Haileigh Greer eventually ended the Jemison scoring drought with a free throw with 6:17 to play in the second quarter.

The Mustangs led 29-11 at halftime and never looked back in the second half, as they continued to do what they do best.

Isabella’s Synia Chattman drives to the basket for a layup during semifinal action against Jemison on Jan. 4. Chattman finished with a game-high 27 points. (Photo by Brandon Sumrall/Special)

“We were a little rusty, having not played in over two weeks,” Day said. “It was good for us to run it down the floor and knock some of that rust off and get back in the groove of things.”

Due to the large lead, Isabella was able to empty the bench and give valuable minutes to the reserves, who played nearly the entire fourth quarter.

“Seven of those girls were off of our junior high team,” Day said. “It’s good anytime you can get them that experience.”

Synia Chattman led all scorers with 27 points, while Alexis Owens joined her in double figures with 11 points.

The majority of Owens’ points came in the paint and was the result of crashing the offensive boards.

Kiara Ford opened the game with a three-pointer for the Mustangs and finished with nine points, all coming in the first quarter.

Jemison senior Karmen Mims played in the final county tournament game of her career and was one of the lone bright spots offensively for the Panthers with 13 points.

Isabella will await the winner of the semifinal matchup between CCHS or Verbena. The girls county championship will be played on Jan. 6 at 5 p.m.

“We’ve lost some close ones [county championships] in the past,” Day said. “It’s something that we really want.”