Greenbrier High School's game plan entering the first round of the Class AAAA girls basketball state tournament was no surprise to anyone. Even visiting four-seed Starr's Mill knew what to expect.
"We tried to defend the 3-pointer on defense," coach Whitt Jones said. "Greenbrier does a very good job pressuring the ball. We had a mismatch on the post, but we had problems getting the ball up the floor."
The Lady Wolfpack used a strong defensive effort highlighted by its full-court press to claim a 65-30 victory over Starr's Mill on Friday.
The victory was Greenbrier's 29th of the season. It has yet to lose a game this year.
Greenbrier girls basketball coach Garrett Black said it's no master strategy that produced all those wins - just execution.
"A lot of teams are versatile and can match up with different lineups," he said. "Because of our lack of size we've got to come at you one way."
That one way is defense. Greenbrier's full-court press has produced nothing but wins since the team's quest for a third-straight state tournament appearance began in November. In Friday's win, the Lady Wolfpack grabbed 21 steals. Eight of them came in a first quarter that saw Greenbrier take a 15-0 lead.
"It's pretty fun because the steals start an energy rush," said freshman guard Kaila Hunt, who is learning the press for the first time this season. "It was hard to adjust at first, but I like playing that kind of defense."
So do Greenbrier's starting guards. There were plenty of steals to go around for starters Michelle Swiec, Sara Oland and Brooke Jackson on Friday. Even forward Tiffany Blackburn, who brings a second wave of pressure at half court, grabbed her share of steals.
"I'm the one who doesn't have to do as much as our guards. They're the key with our press," she said.
For Blackburn and the three other Greenbrier seniors Friday's game was the last they'll play in their home gym. The rest of the state tournament will be played at Mercer University in Macon and Gwinnett Arena in Duluth.
"This was a great win for our seniors," Black said. "They played their last game here in front of a packed house."
Greenbrier's next game will take place at Mercer University against Northside High School from Warner Robins, Ga. At 26-2, the Lady Eagles entered the week ranked No. 2 in the state. Both Northside losses have come to Westside High School out of Macon including a Westside upset victory in the Region 2-AAAA Tournament finals. The loss gave Northside a No. 2 seed in the state tournament.
Greenbrier's second round game in the Class AAAA state tournament will take place on Friday at 4 p.m. in Macon. A win on Friday would advance the Lady Wolfpack to the state quarterfinals to play Saturday at 7 p.m. in Macon against the winner of Friday's North Clayton/Fayette County game.
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