FORT WALTON BEACH - For the first time all season, the Choctawhatchee High Lady Indians simply couldn’t buy a basket.
From the outset against Spanish Fort, Ala., in the semifinals of the Indian Shootout, Choctaw struggled shooting the basketball, connecting on less than 30 percent of its field goal attempts.
For most teams, that would be a recipe for a loss.
For the Choctaw girls, it simply meant they wouldn’t win by 30.
Senior guard LaKeisha Clay carried the load offensively with 17 points and Brittany Brown turned in a double-double with 10 points and 12 steals as Choctaw cruised to tonight’s championship game with a 50-23 win.
“I think that’s the first game we’ve had where we really shot poorly,” said Choctaw head coach Don Brown. “I think we were tired, but we’ve got to play much better than that.”
The Indians (17-0) will face Jonesboro, Ga., in today’s title game, which is slated for a 5:30 p.m. tipoff.
Against Spanish Fort, the Indians used a tenacious defense and timely scoring to pull away in a game where they were never seriously threatened.
The Indians forced 18 first half turnovers and 29 for the game while limiting Spanish Fort to just nine points in the second half. Guard Elaine Wood scored all 14 of Spanish Fort’s first-half points as Choctaw took a 23-14 lead into halftime.
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“We are a much better team than we showed in the first half,” said Don Brown.
Clay scored 11 of her game-high 17 in the second half, with most coming no easy opportunities created by the Choctaw defense. Brown and Clay constantly hounded Spanish Fort’s guards, leading to plenty of easy baskets on the offensive end.
Brittany Washington added six points for the Lady Indians, while Shavonna Spaw had a team-leading 10 rebounds.
South Walton, FWB fall
A day after opening the tournament with an overtime loss, South Walton came close to taking down Lovejoy, Ga., but an 11-0 Lovejoy run to end the third quarter doomed South Walton to an 0-2 start to the Indian Shootout.
Up six points late in the third, the Seahawks gave up 11 straight to end the quarter, effectively putting the game out of reach.
Casey Perot led South Walton with nine points, while Eve Heffron, Taylor Menard and Morgan Kennedy all scored eight.
The loss set South Walton up for a Day 3 matchup with Fort Walton Beach, but that game has been cancelled.