NE Regional: Powerful Holly Pond girls pound Saks
by Mark Edwards
Feb 20, 2014 | 2395 views |  0 comments | 45 45 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Saks' Tatyana Jenkins (22) is fouled from behind by Holly Pond's Taylor Rowell (14) trying to steal the ball Thursday during the AHSAA Northeast Regional high school basketball tournament at Pete Mathews Coliseum on the campus of Jacksonville State University. It was Calhoun county day at the tournament with 7 county teams playing.  (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
Saks' Tatyana Jenkins (22) is fouled from behind by Holly Pond's Taylor Rowell (14) trying to steal the ball Thursday during the AHSAA Northeast Regional high school basketball tournament at Pete Mathews Coliseum on the campus of Jacksonville State University. It was Calhoun county day at the tournament with 7 county teams playing. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
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JACKSONVILLE -- Saks' first basket Maiya Northard got its first basket nearly three minutes into Thursday's Northeast Regional girls semifinal, and the next basket by the Wildcats didn't come until nearly eight minutes later when Northard nailed a 3-pointer.

In between, Holly Pond showed why it won the regional last year, was ranked No. 3 at the end of this year's regular season, and is expected to challenge for the Class 3A state crown. The Broncos poured it on early and often in an 87-29 victory, dispatching Saks quickly and efficiently.

Holly Pond (30-3), which will face Plainview in Saturday's finals at 12:20 p.m., led 25-2 after one quarter, 36-2 until Northard's trey and 49-7 at halftime.

Saks (9-15) starts two eighth-graders, a ninth-grader, a 10th-grader and an 11th-grader, and nobody on the team was with the varsity when it made the regionals last in 2012. Holly Pond made sure this was a learning experience for the Wildcats rather than a winning one.

"I have a small team," Saks coach Michelle Lively said, "but we have a fast team -- one of the fastest around here. I wanted us to push the ball and attack on offense, and we didn't do that.

"We waited, and Holly Pond got set up on defense. I've got young point guards who are still growing up, and when Holly Pond is set up on defense, they have those traps that they run."

Holly Pond uses a rotation of eight players, and none played more than starter Natasha Holcombe's 21 minutes. The Broncos took three starters out of the game for good with 3:01 left in the third quarter. One more came out two minutes later, and the final starter on the floor, Holcombe, came out at the of the third period.

Holly Pond played the whole fourth quarter with three ninth-graders who spend the season with the junior varsity.

"Our girls came out ready to play and shot the ball well early," Holly Pond coach Scott Adams said. "We got a big lead early. Really, it's the first region game we've ever had like that."

Megan Gambrill scored 26 points to pace Holly Pond, including 18 in the first half. Holcombe added 13, and Ruth Horton, a former junior varsity player, added 11 points.

For Saks, 5-foot-5 freshman Tatyana Jenkins came off the bench and scored a team-high nine points. Northard finished with seven. Bryanna Browning, a 5-8 eighth-grader, pulled down nine rebounds, blocked two shots, made three steals, scored four points and played all 32 minutes.

Even with the 58-point loss, Lively said there's something to be gained by appearing at regionals, especially for a team that began the season 3-10.

"Just getting here to regionals is good," Lively said.

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