by Aaron Garcia
While the Parkwood girls basketball team has been among the most successful squads in the state this season, coach Sam Beasley wondered if that trend would end in the team’s opening game of the Class 3A state tournament against Kannapolis Brown.
In the end though, the Rebels escaped with a 60-58 win. In their second-round game against China Grove Carson, the Rebels’ 61-54 win was a bit more convincing.
“We’ve obviously had some ups and downs this year,” said Beasley, who replaced Jamel McGee, who took over as the boys head coach this season after coaching the girls team to a third-round playoff appearance last season.
“We’ve had games like Monday night where we didn’t play very well, I didn’t think,” said Beasley, whose team improved to 24-2 with the win. “Then, (against Carson), the girls decided they didn’t want to be finished (playing) yet. I wasn’t really sure about that for a while on Monday night.”
To be fair, the Rebels have dealt with their share of road bumps this season, starting with McGee’s move to the boys program this season. They also had to learn to play without last year’s point guard, Michelle Brown, who paced Parkwood both offensively and defensively last season. Throw in a season-ending knee injury to forward Bailey Simms – one of the team’s only true post players – and things could’ve gotten ugly, said Beasley.
Instead, guard Morgan Brown has been solid at the point guard position while Cadeja Hood elevated her scoring to make up from Morgan Brown’s move to the point. Wing player Tori Tsitouris slid to the post to compensate for the loss of Simms. Tsitouris’s freshman sister, Emory, also gained some valuable minutes and experience in the post.
“(These girls) are battle-tested,” said Beasley. “We weren’t quite sure how this was all going to play out, but in the process, the girls have just said, ‘You know what? When we come to play basketball, we’re just going to block all that out and worry about what goes on between the lines.’
“I salute them for that,” Beasley continued. “I think they’ve done a great job of blocking out and going through the distractions to get where they are today.”
The Rebels next face Charlotte Harding on Feb. 25. The Rams employ a full-court press unlike any the Rebels have faced this year, said the coach.
“It’s going to take all five of us to work together to break that press and try to get into some kind of offensive set,” said Beasley.