After winning a physical battle with No. 6-ranked Midfield in the Class 3A Northeast Regional semifinals, Molly Heard asked Pisgah teammate Chloe Womack a question as they sat at a table in the press conference room.
“How many bruises you got, Chloe?” Heard asked.
“I’ve got a bunch,” Womack replied, “but it’s all right.”
The outcome was definitely all right with Pisgah.
The two-time defending state champion Eagles pulled away in the second half to defeat Midfield 63-49 Saturday afternoon at Jacksonville State University’s Pete Mathews Coliseum.
The win advanced No. 2-ranked Pisgah (28-3) into a regional championship game clash with No. 4 Susan Moore (27-3) on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. Susan Moore, which has won 16 straight games, defeated Sylvania 89-71 in Saturday’s other semifinal.
It’s a rematch of a game played earlier this season in which Pisgah won 75-61 at PHS on Nov. 23.
“It’s obvious to say we’re excited to be moving on (to the finals),” said Pisgah head coach Carey Ellison. “We’ve got to turn around and play who may be the best team in the state. Hopefully all of our experiences from this season will help us.”
Pisgah chasing its fourth straight regional championship and its 13th overall.
The Eagles had to work hard to keep its regional title hopes alive. Pisgah and Midfield were tied 13-all after one quarter, but the Eagles slid in front 24-21 at halftime despite shooting just 19 percent from the field.
But Pisgah’s offensive fortunes changed in the third quarter.
Two free throws from Heard started the Eagles on a 10-2 third-quarter ending run that pushed them in front 41-29. The run included two buckets from Heard and one each from Madison Myers and Layla Hatfield. The fourth quarter started with a Hatfield 3-pointer, a layup from Bella Bobo and two Hatfield free throws to give Pisgah a 48-29 lead with 6:25 remaining. Midfield (23-6) never got closer than 12 the rest of the way.
“I think we just wore on them,” Ellison said. “Their foul trouble was killer for them. We were able to play full-court man (defense) most of the night and keep that pressure on. We made some shots (in the second half). From the time we knew we were playing Midfield, we knew that it was going to be a physical game, that we would have to really come in and step up to the physicality of the game. We knew they were really going to be working hard on the boards. We’ve done more box-out rebounding drills the previous four days than we probably have the whole year combined. I knew that was their M.O. Didn’t matter who shot it...all of them we’re going to rush in there to get the rebound. I felt like we did a pretty good job on the boards.”
Midfield outrebounded Pisgah 60-44 and had 29 offensive rebounds, but Pisgah had 20 offensive rebounds itself and had more second-chance points (17 to 16) than Midfield. The Eagles also scored 24 points off of 29 Midfield turnovers.
Womack netted a game-high 23 points — the senior scored 14 of Pisgah’s first 19 points in the game — and claimed seven rebounds and two steals. She was 13 of 19 from the free-throw line.
Heard recorded a double-double of 16 points and 15 rebounds while also blocking five shots and getting two steals. Hayfield contributed 12 points and four rebounds and Kallie Tinker had four points and two assists while Bobo had four points, Myers had two points, three steals and two assists and Anastasia Young and Ashley Shrader had one point each.
Jeremiah Moore led Midfield with 21 points, three assists and seven rebounds while Dominique Owens added 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Some first-half foul trouble caused Pisgah to go deep into its bench. Ellison lauded the Eagles’ reserves for their performances.
“I thought we played very well off the bench,” he said. “We had good contributions, whether it was playing good defense, being physical and getting some boxouts or rebounds. There were a lot of great contributions that we wouldn’t have survived had the (reserves) not been up to the task.”