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Sunshine returns to regional tournament

NEWBERN — Sunshine is back in the regional round after a 66-51 win over a young Holy Spirit team Thursday night.

“Starting the second season now,” Lady Tigers head coach Phillip Wagner said. “We’re back where we want to be.”

The Lady Tigers’ chances looked iffy early as Holy Spirit followed up a 17-8 first quarter with intensified pressure on defense. The Lady Titans stifled and frustrated the Sunshine offense for the better part of the second quarter, holding the Lady Tigers to three points in the first 4:20 of the frame.

“That was one heck of a team,” Wagner, who called a timeout with 3:40 to go in the second quarter to reset his team, said. “They are young, but they’re going to give people trouble the next few years.”

Wagner’s team picked up the pace some over the remainder of the period, scoring 10 more points in the quarter to take a 30-24 lead into the half. The Lady Tigers showed a preference for the three-point shot in the first half, draining four triples in the first quarter alone. Wagner said that favoritism hurt his team’s first half performance.

“I told them, ‘Look, we’ve got to start getting in the lane,'” Wagner said. “We had to make the adjustment.”

The Lady Tigers did make the adjustment in the second half, eventually finding a way to remove the invisible lid from the above the rim and surging for 20 points in the third quarter.

Sunshine’s effort was helped most by its ability to clean the glass. The Lady Tigers grabbed a total of 50 rebounds as a team in the contest.

Senior guard and Alabama commit Shafontaye Myers scored 38 points and clutched 11 rebounds in the game. She found a scoring complement in Johnquesha Childs, who finished with 10 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals in the game. Deborah Lewis contributed eight points and grabbed nine rebounds while Lacresha Rainer had seven points, seven rebounds and four blocks in the contest.

Wagner said Myers’ supporting cast will need to be at least the effective for the Lady Tigers to advance through the regional tournament in Montgomery next week.

“Everybody knows Taye’s coming and it’s going to be real important that everybody steps up,” Wagner said. “We found that out last year. We can’t win with just Taye.”

Sunshine will challenge Donoho Monday at 6 p.m. at the Joe L. Reed Acadome on the campus of Alabama State University in Montgomery.