ROSEPINE – Trailing late in the fourth quarter, Rosepine was playing on its heels but got into a rhythm late to move on to the second round of the playoffs.
The Lady Eagles ended the game on an 11-0 run to pick up the 61-55 win over Lakeview Thursday night at home in the first round of the LHSAA playoffs.
"If we played this game earlier in the year, we would have lost it," Rosepine head coach CT Kiely said. "The growth we've had throughout the year taught us not to panic. We just settled in, and we had a horrible start in the first quarter. That's a time where a team can panic, especially with the youth we have in their first playoff game."
No. 18 Lakeview and No. 15 Rosepine share a lot of similarities – young teams with no seniors and a fast-paced style.
"I think it helped a little bit, because we showed each other our weaknesses," Kiely said. "We're a slow starting team and strong finishing team. Everything I've seen on them, they start strong and slow down in the end. They were better athletes than us, too."
Trailing 55-50 with 1:48 left on the clock, Lady Eagles guard Addison Fruge hit a pair of free throws on back-to-back possessions to pull within 1. Fruge battled foul trouble throughout the game but provided the spark to get the Rosepine offense rolling.
"She has a great motor and she forgets about mistakes quickly," Kiely said. "It sounds silly but she's a dog chasing a ball. She sees it and goes after it. Sometimes, it's a bad thing, but tonight, it was a good thing."
The Rosepine defense locked down, forcing Lakeview into tough shots and getting out into transition in the final minute.
"We talked about defensive rebounding all week," Kiely said. "I knew their size and being better athletes was going to be a key. In the first half, they were shooting until they made it. To secure rebounds in the clutch and make good decisions was huge. We just closed it out the right way."
A layup by Taylor Farris with 1:10 to play gave Rosepine its first lead since midway in the third quarter.
Lady Eagles guard Kelly Norris got out into the open court on back-to-back possessions and hit layups to give her team a 60-55 lead with 25 seconds left on the clock to seal the win.
Fruge led Rosepine with 19 points, and Norris finished with 13. Farris had 12 points – including three 3-pointers.
Jameisha Fisher also had double figures, adding 12 points.
The Lady Gators began the game on an 11-0 run and led 26-17 after the first quarter.
"That is kind of par for the year," Kiely said. "It's something about starting on that end of this gym. That says a lot about our growth. I've coached teams in the past that if they went down 11-0, heads started dropping. A positive part of the youth is that they just want to play ball."
The Lady Eagles tied it up midway through the second quarter, but Lakeview took a 35-33 lead into the break.
Rosepine (19-12) took a 40-38 lead in the third quarter after a 3 by Farris, but the Lady Gators went on a 9-0 run, capitalizing on multiple turnovers, to retake the lead.
Lakeview guard Janaiya Fisher finished with a game-high 25, and the seventh grader was a problem for the Lady Eagles all night
The Lady Eagles will take on No. 2 Red River, which is coming off a 87-43 win over Vidalia.
"I have to start doing the homework," Kiely said. "Red River is well coached and has a bunch of talent. We're just going to play ball. Win, lose or draw, we're going to play ball."