But during the first half of Friday’s GISA Class AA semifinal at Mercer, Briarwood’s other players stepped up to put a hole in that plan. That allowed Briarwood’s stars, Tiffany Pate and Malia Kency, time to get going, and they did, leading the Lady Bucs to a 69-55 win.
“We were focused on trying to slow (Pate and Kency) down, and in the first half, they combined for just 18 points,” Shepherd said. “But their other players had 20, and that was tough.”
Briarwood led 38-19 at the break and kept its lead in double digits in the second half to move to within one win of the program’s first state title. Pate finished with 26, while Kency had 18, but the Lady Bucs got plenty of contributions from other players, including Cameron Stadler, who had nine.
“I thought we played really well and rebounded well, and that was important,” Briarwood head coach Keith Johnson said. “We have our top two players for sure, but we have a lot of scorers, and they were all good in this game. We’re really excited to get to play for a state championship. It’s special to be here and get that chance.”
Sydney Bozeman led Trinity with 17 points and Sarah Horne added 13.
Briarwood scored the game’s first 15 points, but Trinity responded with eight in a row to close the first quarter. But the Bucs took over in the second quarter.
“This is a big stage and a big arena, and this group of girls had never been in this kind of game before,” Shepherd said. “I think they were overwhelmed a little bit, a little bit in awe. And we just played timid.”