Another year, another trip to Jackson for Joe Miller and the Southeast Lauderdale girls basketball team.
Southeast Lauderdale took down Collins 64-48 Friday night at Choctaw Central High School to advance to the South State championship game on Saturday and earn a berth to the State Championship Tournament.
“We have made it nine out of the last 10 years,” Southeast Lauderdale head coach Joe Miller said. “That is a tribute to the talent and how hard our kids play.”
Southeast showed its versatility in the first half. The Tigers went to Crystal Clay early on, who scored 12 of Southeast's first 15 points, working the boards and muscling her way to easy put-backs. Clay finished the night with 20 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots.
After Collins (26-3) stacked the low post, Southeast passed the ball out to junior guard Chariae Harbin, who was near automatic from beyond the arch. Harbin went 6/8 from three-point territory, putting up 18 points for the Tigers.
“I said coming into the year, we were going to be strong in the post with Jasmine Bush and Crystal Clay,” Miller said. “But then, I think people really underestimate the quickness and speed of our guards.”
Harbin's biggest three came in the first quarter, when she hit a shot at the buzzer to give the Tigers a 20-15 lead. The shot also ended a 7-0 run from Collins, taking back any momentum Southeast had lost.
“That three-pointer at the end of the first was huge for us,” Miller said. “Collins was going on a bit of a run there. This team was 26-2 coming into the game, and they lost to two good teams. That three kind of gave us a little cushion, and then Harbin made three threes in the second quarter and that was huge.”
Jasmine Bush (11 points, 14 rebounds, four steals) and Denisha Knight (14 assists) also had big nights for Southeast.
The Tigers will now move on to face Choctaw Central in the South State Championship at Choctaw Central High School at 7:00 p.m. The win improves the Tigers to 31-1 on the season.
“Tonight was the game,” Miller said. “Do we want to beat Choctaw, always. We will see how Crystal Clay is doing. If she is good to go then she will play, if not she wont. The ultimate prize is that gold ball in Jackson.
Though he plans to be careful with his players, the competitive Miller still has his sights set on a South State Championship and a fifth-straight win over the Warriors.
“We plan on playing to win,” Miller said. “We will have a week to rest before Jackson. Short of an injury, we are coming in trying to win, and our starters will play.”
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