Same song, different verse
Mike Self FCT Sports Editor
RED BAY - The Red Bay Lady Tigers followed a familiar script in Tuesday's victory over Colbert Heights.
Jump out to a big early lead. Use smothering defense to force turnovers in bunches. Spread the wealth when it comes to scoring.
And for the final act, allow the starters to watch happily from the bench as the clock ticks down on another lopsided win over an area opponent.
Red Bay accomplished all of the above on Tuesday, overwhelming the Lady Wildcats 64-34 to remain undefeated in area play.
The Lady Tigers (6-3, 3-0 in Class 2A, Area 16) scored the game's first 11 points and led 20-6 after one quarter.
Amy Jackson capped off Red Bay's blistering first half with a buzzer-beating jumper to make it 44-13, signaling the end of the night for most of the Lady Tigers' starters.
"I thought our girls played well tonight," Red Bay coach Donnie Roberts said. "We got a chance to rest our starters in the second half, and we had some other girls come in and do a good job for us.
"Our defensive intensity was definitely better tonight. We did a good job of getting in some passing lanes, and that allowed us to get some steals and a few easy baskets."
Red Bay's first six field goals came from inside the lane as the Lady Tigers raced out to a 13-2 lead.
Alyssa Horton nailed a jumper and a three-pointer as the lead swelled to 14 by the end of the first quarter.
Lauren Tucker had six points as the Lady Tigers opened the second quarter on an 11-2 run.
After Colbert Heights made a free throw, Kalie Sparks scored eight straight points to extend Red Bay's lead to 39-9 with 1:35 left in the first half.
After four quick points by the Lady Wildcats, Julie Jarnigan drilled the first of her three three-pointers on the night and Jackson added a jumper as time expired to give Red Bay a 31-point halftime lead.
Roberts was pleased to see his team come out focused for an area game.
"It's like I told our girls this morning," he said. "Colbert Heights may not be having a great year, but they're an area opponent. So this was an important game.
"We've still got one more [area] game each with Belgreen, Phil Campbell and Colbert Heights, and two more with Cherokee, so we've got a long way to go. But we're off to a good start."
Dee Kimbrough had eight points in the third quarter as Colbert Heights out-scored Red Bay 14-6 to trim the lead to 50-27.
The Lady Tigers finished strong, however, getting a couple of threes from Jarnigan and four points from Tasha Petree to out-score the Lady Wildcats 14-7 in the fourth quarter.
Kalie Sparks led Red Bay with 12 points, including 10 in the second quarter. Horton scored all 10 of her points in the first half.
Julie Jarnigan finished with nine points, and Tucker and Mandy Lowery each added eight. Petree, Jackson and Betsy Jarnigan each had four points, and Kendra Sparks added three. Alicia Nelson had two points.
Kimbrough led Colbert Heights with 12 points.
Roberts was pleased with his team's effort, but he said the Lady Tigers' best basketball remains in front of them.
"We're not playing great right now," he said. "We usually make our biggest improvement after Christmas."
Red Bay will take the weekend off before opening play against Rogers on Monday at 3 p.m. in the first round of the Northwest Alabama Christmas Tournament at Lauderdale County High School.
As usual, the tournament features some of the premier girls' basketball teams in the state, including Hatton, Hazlewood, Deshler, Haleyville, Lauderdale County, Sheffield and Red Bay, among others.
If Red Bay defeats Rogers on Monday, the Lady Tigers would face either Hazlewood or Sheffield on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. in the second round.