For Chadwick freshmen phenoms Raeleigh Little and Kerrigan Guerin, their first go-around in the post-season has seen them lead the Lady Cardinals to the Class 1 Sectional round.
But this hasn’t necessarily been their first taste of the post-season. They were on Chadwick’s bench last season as team managers and thus witnessed the Lady Cardinals’ 54-46 loss to South Iron at Sectionals last year.
Chadwick and South Iron will reunite at Sectionals on Tuesday at the West Plains Civic Center.
“We have an idea of how they are going to be,” Little said. “I think we have a chance at winning. We’ll have to work hard. They’re fast and hard-working, just like us. It’s going to be a tough game.”
South Iron is 25-1 and Chadwick 21-5. The Lady Cardinals have reeled off 12 wins in a row.
“They were a Final Four team last year and have been ranked in the top three all year this season,” Chadwick coach Scott Payne said of South Iron. “They brought everybody back. We’re confident we can play with them and make it a game. We’re going to have to execute, not get nervous and follow our game plan.”
Payne hopes the Lady Cardinals’ full-court pressure pays the same kind of dividends it has all season.
“My philosophy is put pressure on (the opponent) and eventually we’ll tire out their guards and go on a run,” he said. “We’ve been successful with it. Our girls do a good job of knowing when to rotate (in the press) and how to bait the other team into thinking they are open and then we cut through and get steals.”
The Chadwick-South Iron winner takes on either Southland or Delta at Van Buren in a Quarterfinal on Saturday.
Chadwick and South Iron will also take each other in a Class 1 Sectional boys matchup at West Plains on Tuesday.
South Iron (24-4) is the defending Class 1 state champion. The Panthers average 75.5 point a game
Chadwick (22-4) averages 58.1 points and has won 12 straight games.
It’s also a rematch, with South Iron taking the teams’ Sectional contest 74-42 a year ago.
“When we met South Iron last year, we realized the teams we struggled with were teams that handled our pressure,” coach Shawn Guerin said. “It almost felt like we were one-dimensional. After we got home, I thought, ‘We have to be more than one-dimensional.’ So, we’ve worked on other things to hopefully prepare us better. We’ve been talking about this opportunity for a year now. We want to give ourselves a chance.”
Guerin is also interested to see what kind of impact playing on a collegiate-sized court has on the proceedings. College courts are 94 feet in length, more than 10 feet longer the high school courts.
“I think it could be a disadvantage for both of us, with tired defenses,” Guerin said.
When the teams met last year, both contests were at South Iron.
South Iron is led by all-stater Drenin Dinkins, the son of Panthers coach Dusty Dinkins.
“Dinkins can drive to the rim well and shoot outside like crazy,” Chadwick guard Garrett Gardner said.
The Chadwick-South Iron winner takes on either Clarkton or Leopold at Van Buren in a Quarterfinal on Saturday.