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Northwest Regionals
Wildcats can’t beat Oneonta’s defense
By Justin Graves - TNValleyNOW.com
Jeronimo Nisa/TNValleyNOW.com
West Limestone’s Laura Easter tries to hold back tears at the Class 4A Northwest regional final. West Limestone ended its season at 24-10.

HANCEVILLE — Looking over a stat sheet, Ben Campbell winces as he sees the final numbers.

For West Limestone High's girls basketball coach, the boxscore didn't lie. Defense ruled the day.

Constantly disrupting passing lanes and denying the ball in the paint, Oneonta used a strong defensive performance to advance past West Limestone 53-34 on Saturday in the Class 4A Northwest Regional final.

Top-ranked Oneonta (30-4) advances to face Dadeville (20-9) at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Class 4A state semifinals.

"They are about as an aggressive of a defensive basketball team that we've seen all year," Campbell said. "Length is the most underrated thing in basketball, and they had size and length, and they all have arms that don't stop. They obviously gave us problems."

West Limestone (24-10) took a 16-15 lead midway through the second quarter, but then everything unraveled.

Oneonta closed out the half with a 5-0 run, and then used an 18-6 run in the third quarter to blow the game open.

Oneonta got all it needed from junior forward Destiney Elliott.

She poured in 25 points, grabbed 20 rebounds and collected four assists and three steals.

Elliott also said the team got pumped up during the halftime break.

"There was a lot of yelling in the locker room at halftime," Elliott said.

The comment made Oneonta coach Amber Deline chuckle.

"I'd call it more like fiery," she said. "We haven't really been a good third-quarter team this season, but we have been in the last two games, so maybe that's a good sign."

West Limestone was never able to find an answer for Oneonta's defense. The Wildcats shot 22.9 percent from the floor, and 7.69 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.

Autumn Bates led West Limestone with nine points, while Olivia Blankenship and Kayla Carter each scored eight.

"We couldn't get anything to fall," Bates said. "They were very aggressive — didn't make anything easy."

Deline said tough defense is what has carried Oneonta throughout the season.

"I always tell my girls that we are going to find ways to win," she said. "But defensively, we can hold teams to less than they are used to scoring, and that's how we win games."

Despite the loss, Campbell said West Limestone's season was a success. The Wildcats reached the Northwest Regional for the eighth time since 1994, when the Alabama High School Athletic Association incorporated the regional format.

"Today is tough, but these girls fought, just like they did all season," Campbell said. "We're losing some good seniors, and I don't know what I'm going to do without them. These girls won a lot of games — just really accomplished a lot. Even though we didn't win today, this was a very good season."

Contact Justin Graves at 256-340-2460 or by email at jgraves@decaturdaily.com.

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