Throughout the sports world four raised fingers is the universal sign that players, coaches and fans give for the ever-important fourth quarter, the time when games are believed to be won or lost.
But Bradwell Institute coach Faye Baker might disagree that the last quarter is the most important.
For the Lady Tigers it’s the third quarter that is key — and Bradwell dominated Camden County over that span Friday night to cruise to a 54-21 victory in the Region 3-AAAAA semifinals at Groves.
Not that BI is bad at other times. The No. 1-ranked Lady Tigers put together a solid first half and led 32-15 at the break.
"When we are leading at the half like we were tonight we tell them that the most important thing to do is to come and win the third quarter. Before we come out of the locker room we remind them that the score is zero-to-zero and we have to go out win the third quarter," Baker said.
Camden tried to be patient with the basketball in an effort to stop the flying Bradwell defense. The Lady Tigers created steals and were a force on the boards.
A pair of back-to-back 3s from guard Mariah Maternik gave the Lady Tigers a 44-16 lead and forced the Lady Wildcats to take a time out to try and slow down BI. Instead, the stingy Bradwell defense allowed only five points in the second half.
Bradwell had three players in double figures. Shaquioa Crockett and Maternik put in 17 points each. Quintunya Chapman finished with 12 points, yanked down nine rebounds and blocked two shots.
"We are really proud of the girl’s effort tonight. We are starting to peak right now and this is the time of the season to do that. We are still being able to create a lot of offense through defensive pressure," Baker said.
She praised the efforts of freshman point guard Crockett.
"She is able to learn things and pick them up really fast. She has amazing court vision and is able to keep the offense running on the court," Baker said.
Bradwell was scheduled to take its No. 1 GACA poll ranking and unblemished 27-0 record into the finals Saturday night against old rival Beach. Though the Lady Tigers have already won the region, they obviously would like to add the title of region tournament champions to their 2010-11 resumé.
The Lady Tigers defeated Beach in two games by a total margin of 16 points. In the first game in November, BI narrowly escaped an early loss and defeated the Lady Bulldogs 53-51. The second game wasn’t as close.
Beach came back from a 13-point deficit in the other girls’ semifinal game to survive Windsor Forest, 50-49.
"I am really not surprised it has come to us and Beach. They definitely have tradition and are very well coached. When I started coaching, Beach coach Ronald Booker is one of the people that I really wanted to pattern myself after. He is a great coach and gets the most of his players at the toughest times," Baker said.
Beach plays with a quick tempo and often tries to run a team out of the game with their speed.
That’s fine with Baker and her team.
"We want to them to get in a running game with us which many teams do not. We expect to run the floor and continue to play good defense that will allow our offense to be able to execute," Baker said.
Bradwell top scorers:
Latisha Frasier 3, Quinaka Hatchell 2.
Bradwell top scorers:Shaquioa Crockett 17, Mariah Maternik 17, Quintunya Chapman 12, Leitia Leitaua 3, KeAndra Fraiser 3,