STATE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT: Lady Eagles ready to defend crown against Collinsville

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L-R: Cold Springs’ Toni West, Elizabeth Hill and Kylon Hamby will help lead the Lady Eagles when they meet Collinsville in the 2A Girls State Championship Game Friday at 9 a.m. (Martha Needham/The Cullman Tribune)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – For the second consecutive year, the Cold Springs Lady Eagles are playing in the final game of the season with the 2A Girls State Championship on the line. No. 2 Cold Springs will meet top-ranked Collinsville at the BJCC’s Legacy Arena Friday morning at 9 a.m. to defend its state crown. A win would make it back to back titles for the Lady Eagles and a total of five in their program’s history.

The Lady Eagles defeated Central-Hayneville 61-46 Monday night to advance to the championship game and West was really happy with the basketball her team played. Cold Springs knocked down nine three-pointers in the game, seven of which came from Elizabeth Hill, and protected the ball against the Lady Lions.

“We shot the ball well, passed the ball well and only had seven turnovers throughout the course of the game which is fantastic. I felt like we played pretty good defense for the most part,” West said. “I think we got tired a few times and missed some assignments but overall, we really communicated well, talked to each on defense and just took care of the basketball. I think that was the main thing but of course when you’re hitting shots, everything looks good.”

The Lady Panthers have hovered around the top of the rankings all season just like Cold Springs and Lady Eagles Head Coach Tammy West can see why. Collinsville has not allowed more than 41 points since the sub-regional round and will be a handful for Cold Springs Friday morning.

“They’re a very fundamentally sound team. I’ve watched a lot of film on them and haven’t been able to really find any weaknesses that they have,” West said. “They play well together, they have ball handlers, they have shooters and they play excellent defense so its really going to be a challenge for us but we’re looking forward to it.”

West says her team is confident and loose as they prepare for Friday morning’s championship tilt and their focus is on finishing another great season with another blue map.

“They know that this is a different team this year and right now they seem really loose. They have a lot of confidence right now. It’s like a business trip,” West said. “We’re having fun but they’re still working extremely hard and just want to finish. That’s kind of their goal and their motto right now is to just finish.”

There is a lot of experience on this year’s Cold Springs squad that played through last year’s state championship showdown against Fyffe and West is hoping that experience will give the Lady Eagles an edge this time around.

“We’re excited and looking forward to it. Hopefully our experience will help us and may just give us a little bit of an edge. They have that experience of being down here last year and kind of know what to expect,” West said. “We had to face some adversity last year going into overtime and we were able to pull out the win so that’s kind of what we’re going on. We have five seniors on the team and six juniors so they’re super experienced and they’re eager to play.”

Cold Springs is ready to get back on the court and defend its state title and if the Lady Eagles can continue to hit outside shots, their experience could be a major factor in a tight game with Collinsville.

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