ROME, Ga. — Randy Watson couldn't go into much detail on his halftime speech, but needless to say, the Dade County High School girls' basketball coach maybe should bottle it for future use.
Trailing a Murray County team it had soundly beaten twice this season in a do-or-die quarterfinal game at the Region 7-AA tournament at Georgia Highlands College on Wednesday, Watson cut loose on his struggling team. The resulting 47-32 Lady Wolverines' win wasn't about better effort in the second half.
The state playoff-clinching win was more about a state of mind than anything else.
"The first half we played extremely tight," explained Watson, whose team trailed 23-20 at the half. "They did a great job defending us, but it seemed like we panicked a bit and we were acting like we were down 30. We just had to settle down, get into our halfcourt game and guard them."
Guard them they did. Dade (20-5) pitched a shutout in the third period, forcing numerous turnovers and at least a half-dozen airballs from the young Lady Indians (7-17). The second half also saw senior guard Erika Woodfin take over offensively. Trailing 23-22, Woodfin hit a 3-pointer, the first of 10 consecutive points for the senior guard.
Dade ended the period up 34-23 and never looked back.
"We were just making really bad decisions in the first half, and we started getting fired up at halfitme, started playing better defense and rebounding," said Woodfin, who finished with a game-high 24 points. "We weren't playing as a team. Since we had beaten Murray easily the first two times we weren't really focused."
Murray, playing as many as three freshmen at times, got within eight on Kaitlyn Richardson's 3-pointer with 2:56 to play, but Dade scored the next seven points -- four by Woodfin -- to seal the win and a date Friday with No. 2 seed Model. The Lady Wolverines, who were swept by the Lady Blue Devils this season, hope to secure the home playoff game with a win.
"If we win Friday we get to host the first round, which means we might wouldn't have to travel to Wesleyan or Greater Atlanta Christian," Watson said. "For some reason we haven't played well against Model. At their place we shot 25 percent, gave up 17 offensive boards, turned it over 25 times and were down six with a couple of minutes to go.
"There's not a lot of difference between us, [top-seeded] Calhoun and Model. It's all about who makes the shots."
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...