ROGERSVILLE — West Morgan thought that by defending the paint and making Lauderdale County shoot from the perimeter, it might have a chance to upset the Tigers.
It seemed a sound strategy, as Lauderdale County has struggled with jump shots at times this season.
But Emma Wallen took pleasure in tearing that strategy to pieces.
The freshman shooting guard hit five 3-pointers and scored 21 points in just three quarters to lead the Tigers to a 74-41 win over the Rebels in a Class 3A sub-regional game.
With the win, Lauderdale County advances to the Northwest Regional tournament next week in Hanceville.
“We’ve been shooting like crazy before and after practice,” Wallen said.
“That was always one of our weaknesses we’ve had to work on. If you can’t shoot well, you’re probably not going to win. But we’re confident shooting now. If teams want to play zone and let us shoot, we’ll shoot. If they play man, we’ll get it to our inside players. We’ll play everybody’s game.”
Lauderdale County coach Brant Llewellyn said he has confidence in his team’s shooting ability, even though they always haven’t performed well at times.
“I tell our shooters if they’re open, step out and knock it down,” Llewellyn said. “A good offense takes what the other team gives you. West Morgan packed the inside and didn’t let us get the ball our post players. So we did a good job of making open shots.”
And Lauderdale County (29-5) might be peaking offensively at the perfect time.
“We’ve given our guards the opportunity to shoot threes in practice and they’ve really improved,” Llewellyn said. “This should give us a lot of confidence to knock our shots down when we get them as we head into the regional.”
Lauderdale County was never challenged by West Morgan (8-22), as the Tigers jumped out to a 17-4 lead less than five minutes into the game and led 38-20 at halftime.
“We always like to jump out fast on people,” Lauderdale County senior forward Karlee Brown said. “We try to tire them out early and roll from there.”
Wallen scored 11 points in the first half despite sitting out much of the second quarter with foul trouble, and then scored 10 more points in the third quarter before sitting with the rest of the starters in the fourth quarter.
Brown scored 11 points while Sydney Sanders led West Morgan with 17 points.
Lauderdale County plays will face Winfield in its first game at 3 p.m. Thursday. It is just one more step to the Tigers’ ultimate goal of defending its state championship.
“We feel like we’re supposed to be there (in Hanceville),” Brown said. “I’ve been there every year except for one. We’ve just got to take it one game at a time now to reach our ultimate goal.”