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At the beginning of the season, head coach Steven Shedd and the Banks County Lady Leopards’ first goal was to win the Region 8-AA championship. After last Friday’s 48-37 win over Elbert County, the Lady Leopards can check goal one off the list.
The Lady Leopards (23-5) claimed the program’s first region championship since 1980. The Lady Leopards also secured home-court advantage through at least the first two rounds of the Class AA state playoffs, which begins this Friday vs. Pepperell. The game takes place at 5:30 p.m.
Last season, the Lady Leopards entered the state playoffs as a No. 2 seed but were upset. Pepperell (6-17) is the No. 4 seed from Region 7-AA.
Going into this week, Shedd said the biggest battle is keeping the practicing fun and exciting for the team as they march towards the bigger goal. But also keeping the intensity.
“I feel like the girls are focused,” he said. “They’re excited about (the game).
“I feel like they want it.”
Last year’s first-round loss was brought up at practice, he said, along with several games this season where the group lost focus.
“We can’t allow that to happen, no matter who we’re playing this Friday,” Shedd said. “I told them (Monday), ‘Hopefully, I don’t have to try to give you any motivation or any incentive.’”
One aspect of the state playoffs that excites the Lady Leopard squad is playing an opponent that has never seen them before.
“They can get some game film on you, but that’s only a little piece of what you do,” Shedd said.
Compare that to the regular season and region tournament, where the Lady Leopards played three opponents three times this season (Oglethorpe, Rabun and Elbert).
“It can be kind of tricky when you’re depending on film,” Shedd said, “so when teams aren’t very familiar with you, you kind of go into it with a few more secrets.
“You feel like you can run your full set of what you have, because (the opponent) hasn’t seen it yet. That’s kind of exciting going into a game like this. Of course, we kind of have an idea of what they do and we know the kinds of things we can run against it.”
For more, read this week’s edition of the Banks County News.