HOLLANDALE — When you come into Hollandale and it’s playoff time, you know you are in for a fight.
Both the Houlka High School boys and girls basketball teams figured this truth out early as both of their teams lost to the Simmons High School Tuesday in the opening round of the MHSAA Class A state playoffs.
Using a fierce defense and a high-octane offense, Coach Terrance Washington’s team raced to a 90-65 victory. The Blue Devils advance to host Wheeler Saturday night in the state tournament’s next round.
“Our strength is our athleticism and our defense and we are starting to turn things up just at the right time,” Washington said.
Washington said he believes his team has the potential for greatness. In fact, he said this year’s Blue Devil team reminds him a lot of the 2004 championship team he played on at Simmons.
“That was a great team and this team has a lot of the same characteristics,” Washington said.
This year’s Simmons team is full of unselfish players like Christian Anderson, Jeff McClay, C.J. Williams, Pierre Ricks, Antavius Rounds, Brian Jones, Miles Marshall, Rashaad Shorter and TeKevion Green.
On Tuesday, it was McClay, Williams and Rounds slashing to the basket while Ricks cleaned up on the glass as the Blue Devils ran out to a 40-29 lead at the end of the first half.
“We like to play fast and the faster we play the better,” Washington said.
Simmons girls 71 Houlka 31
In her seven years as head coach at SImmons High School, Bernita Alexander calls this her best chance yet to win a state championship.
The Devilettes showed their championship-type pedigree in their convincing victory Tuesday.
“We are playing well in every aspect of the game, and I want them to continue to try and play a complete game,” Alexander said.
Simmons’ next game will be Friday night at home against Blue Mountain.
Senior star Jalelia Gadison led Simmons with 27 points. Senior Tiara Willis scored 16 points. Taylor Lucas-Howard scored 12 points. Na’Riah Robinson scored seven points and Tamia Green scored five points and also had seven steals.
“We have a great team this year, and I think if we play our best than we are going to have a great chance,” Green said.