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Tigers press their luck in easy win
By Gregg Dewalt -
Matt McKean/TimesDaily
Lauderdale County’s Ivy Wallen takes the ball to the hoop against Winfield’s Katelyn Kostelc on Thursday.

HANCEVILLE — Winfield coach Joseph Wilson knows what's coming each time the Pirates face Lauderdale County at the Northwest Regional tournament.

His team knows it as well, yet the Pirates are unable to prevent Lauderdale County's lethal pressure defense from delivering an early knockout blow.

It happened for the third time with Wilson on the sideline Thursday afternoon, as Lauderdale County combined its swarming fullcourt press and some pinpoint shooting by Emma Wallen in a 68-41 victory.

"Pressure busts pipes, and they just keep pressuring and pressuring and pressuring you," Wilson said.

"You make a mistake and they are there to pick it up and convert it. They swarm it. They are consistent."

Lauderdale County (30-5) set the tone in the first minute, forcing three turnovers and getting the first of six 3-pointers from Emma Wallen in a 5-0 start. A 9-0 run to close the first quarter put Lauderdale County in control the rest of the way.

"We've been pressing at Lauderdale County since they've been playing girls basketball," Lauderdale County coach Brant Llewellyn said. "We made a few things happen with our press and had one come out really hot from the 3-point line again this year like she did last year, so it was nice to get off to a good start."

Lauderdale County scored 15 points off 17 Winfield (24-7) turnovers in the first half.

"It's just something we do," Llewellyn said. "Our girls grow expecting to play that way. You have to play with a special kind of effort to be able to do that game in and game out. It's never a question with our kids. They always play as hard as they can. Our press is effective because they want to do it and they have fun doing it."

While Lauderdale County's press was creating problems for Winfield's offense, Wallen and reserve Makayla Liles were doing damage to the Pirates' defense. Wallen, who had a similar performance last year in this tournament, hit four 3-pointers in the first half. Liles came off the bench to score six points and grab six rebounds in five minutes. She finished with 13 points and Karlee Brown added 11 points.

"You kind of pick your poison," Williams said. "If you leave (Wallen) alone, you know she's going to hit two-thirds of her shots from out there. But then you have (Liles) a 6-4 player in there."

Liles enjoys her role.

"I like being a spark off the bench," Liles said.

"She got some offensive rebounds and stuck them back in," Llewellyn said. "We saw early on that she was going to be a mismatch for them. She's a player who when we put her in we want to get the ball in her hands as quick as possible to see what she can do with it. Some nights she's had game like tonight.

"I told her before the postseason that she was going to be a key to whether we made it to Birmingham, and she stepped up tonight and really played well."

Liles had a team-high eight rebounds.

Micaela Beck scored 13 points for Winfield. Katelyn Kostelc added 12.

Contact Gregg Dewalt at 256-740-5748 or Follow @greggdewalt on Twitter.

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