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Girls basketball: Heritage girls ready for today's state semis
Experience is guide for Heritage’s girls
The Canes are in the Group AAA semifinals for the second straight year, playing against a team they beat last season.
By Jason Jordan | firstname.lastname@example.org | 247-4648
PORTSMOUTH — Heritage High girls basketball coach Michael Gardner doesn’t want to overdo the added "edge" of having been there before.
"It’s a little overrated," he said.
Still, Heritage learned valuable lessons in last year’s Group AAA state semifinal loss to Edison, and the Canes don’t plan on making the same mistakes at 2 p.m. today when they face L.C. Bird in the final four at the Siegel Center.
Heritage beat the Skyhawks 56-51 last year in the state quarterfinals, but lost 76-64 to Edison in the semifinals.
"This was our goal and our expectation," Gardner said of getting back to the final four. "These girls took all measures to ensure that we could back here. Now, we’re here and we’re going to take different steps to put us in the best position this time."
Heritage forward Sonia Johnson added: "This isn’t an excuse, but we did have a few butterflies playing in front of all those people in that arena last year. It showed in that game against Edison, but not this year. We know what to expect. And we’re going to do some things different."
The biggest change?
The Canes drove to Richmond on Monday and stayed overnight. Gardner said with a 2 p.m. game, the first of the day, it’s better to be closer and relaxed.
"It was the same scenario last year," he said. "You don’t want to come off of a bus and walk into the Siegel Center at 1 p.m. for a 2 p.m. game. That’s just not wise."
Even if the Canes have "taken it up a notch" in the state tournament, according to Gardner.
Johnson, a senior, said the possibility of today being her last game is the same motivating factor she used while scoring 20 points in the 69-26 win over W.T. Woodson in the state quarterfinals. Ditto for key seniors Bonae Holston, Indy Hauser, Erica McKeithan, Shaneka Lee, Latasia Robinson and Brittany Thorpe.
"We have more to lose this go-around," Johnson said. "We’re seniors, and it could be our last high school game. So that’s on our minds."
That and staying focused.
Johnson admitted that in last year’s loss to Edison, the Canes weren’t focused mentally heading into the game. This year it’s different.
"We were all thinking about different things at this point last year," Johnson said. "We were all on different levels, and I really believe we lost because of that. This year it’s really different. We’re all on the same page."
He can’t help but to smile when he talks about the new swagger his team has coming into games.
"It’s a quiet confidence that we’ve got now," he said. "It’s the type of thing that lets teams know they’re going to get a good game from us. Not necessarily that we’re going to win, but it’s going to make them say ‘who are those kids?’ "
Gardner hopes the answer will be "champions."
Last edited by Jason Jordan : 03-10-2008 at 10:06 PM.