Monday, March 5, 2012

Defense carries Manassas girls back to state

article from

Things got interesting down the stretch, but in the end, Manassas’ defense proved to be the difference Saturday night in a Class AA sectional game.

The Lady Tigers’ full-court press harassed visiting Covington into 20 turnovers and they weathered a late rally to pull out a 62-56 win, advancing to the Class AA state tournament for a second straight season.

“We have a thing called MPD, which stands for Manassas plays defense,” said Manassas coach Tommy Warren. “And we’re even blue and gold, like the Memphis Police Department. We’ve played like that all year.”

Manassas’ pressure defense finally took its toll on Covington (23-12) as the lead ballooned to 16 (36-20) with 6:30 left in the third quarter.

The lead was still 13 points when the third period ended, but Covington made up ground gradually in the fourth quarter and cut the lead to 54-50 after a pair of Demiah Eaton free throws with 2:50 left in the game.

But four straight free throws from Phikalo Anthony and a bucket by Tiffany Jones pushed the lead back to eight and Covington never threatened again.

Anthony led Manassas (31-3) with 13 points and Jones, Jamille Reed and Denise Johnson each added 12.

Jamiee Bond added 10 blocks, including seven in the first half.

Johnson is one of several Lady Tigers who will be making a repeat trip to the state tournament.

“This feels great,” Johnson said. “I think we’ve got a better defense this year and we stay focused more.”

Iesha Carruthers led Covington with 18 points, all but two of which came in the second half. Precious Harvey and Eaton each scored 13.

“I’m proud of our kids and they showed a lot of heart,” said Covington coach Dion Real, who led the Lady Chargers to the sectionals for the first time since 2002. “They (Manassas) did a good job on defense and showed a lot of poise too.”

Warren said his team’s extensive postseason experience was key.

“They don’t panic,” Warren said. “They have a calmness about them. They’ve been in all types of situations.”

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