West Side Christian set for semifinal clash

West Side Christian’s girls hit the road Wednesday for the long trip to Shawnee, Okla. The Lady Warriors are scheduled to face Claremore Christian Thursday at 7 p.m., in the semifinals of the Heartland Christian Athletic Association Division II Tournament.

The game will be played at Liberty Christian High School.

West Side will take a 21-6 record into the semifinals after a 66-36 win over Owasso Prep on Monday.

West Side coach Randall Miller said Claremore Christian’s Warriors are big and well-coached.

“They have more size than anybody we’ve played this year,” he said. “They have two post players inside - tall, long, effecting shots at the rim and getting to the rim is a big part of our game. We’re going to have to be able to counter that. On film they’ve played some man and some 1-3-1 a little bit. We feel like we can execute and get some shots. It’s just going to be a matter of us putting those in.

“Offensively, they have one guard that’s a little taller with some length, probably about 5-10. She can shoot the deep three and penetrate. And then they have a couple shooters around her. So it’s a big challenge for us. It’s the biggest team I think that we’ve played this year and we’ve played a couple that had some good size.”

Claremore Christian’s size could be a problem on both ends of the court. The Lady Warriors will have to find a way to defend the taller players in the paint.

“They have one girl they’ll post up a lot. She’s a lefty and she’ll try to get to that right shoulder and get to that left hand. We’ve worked on how we’re going to guard that. We’ve worked on pressuring the entry pass a little bit,” said Miller. “They run another post up there around the elbow and use her to set a lot of ball screens and as a passer for the high-low. We’ve focused a lot on those areas. We’re going to try to force some turnovers so we can score in transition a little bit, so we don’t have to go against a set defense all the time.

“We made eight 3-pointers in the game Monday. We are shooting it better now. So I feel like if they do sit in that zone and try to keep us from the rim, I feel like we can get open looks. I feel like we’re certainly capable of making them. That’ll be a big part of it. If we can shoot them out of that zone and get them in man, I really like our chances.”

Miller said he’s hoping his seniors - Carson Bain, Victoria Colley and Cierra Grant - can go out with a bang. The Lady Warriors won the state title last season.

“It’s a fun group to coach. I’m looking forward to it, looking forward to seeing how we do. I want to play well for the seniors,” he said. “We have three seniors and they have been in it since they were eighth graders and freshmen having to play up and taking beatings against older teams. It’s paid off. They’ve become really tough-minded players. I want to play well for them and coach well for them.”

Claremore Christian will be one of the biggest teams West Side has faced and Miller said one of the best. The Lady Warriors, as one of the top seeds, are used to seeing other teams’ best shots this season.

“Last year, we kind of surprised everyone at the end with that late run. I don’t think anybody was really looking at us as a contender. This year it’s a little bit different,” said Miller. “We’re getting everybody’s best shot because we’ve got a good record and we won it last year. And we’ve done well against our conference teams. We will get everybody’s best shot and we’re not in that position very often. We’re usually the underdog. I think these will be intense battles. I just want us to focus on playing every possession with that intensity and not get up too much if we hit a little roll and not get down too much if somebody else does. I think if we do that, we’ll be happy with the outcome. But that’s our challenge - to not get caught up in where the game is being played and what it means. But just enjoy the game and play it really well.”

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