For the Windsor Lady Greyhounds, it is the title they claimed two years ago and came within one game of grabbing last year.
For the Tipton Lady Cardinals, this is a crown they have never had.
Those two teams will meet at 8 p.m. tonight at the Fred E. Davis Multipurpose Center for the Kaysinger Conference Tournament championship.
Tipton arrives in the championship game having beaten Sacred Heart 48-37 in Tuesday’s semifinal. The Lady Cardinals jumped out to a 19-2 lead after one quarter forcing eight turnovers including a pair of Angela Petree steals and a five-second call.
Windsor advanced to the title game by avenging an earlier loss to Cole Camp, beating the Bluebirds 50-38 on Tuesday on the strength of a 16-2 first-half run.
For the Lady Cardinals, this game is not only the game they wanted to be playing in, it’s the opponent they wanted to face.
“Our goal was to be in this game against Windsor,” said Tipton coach Jason Culpepper. “To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best. There was nobody else we wanted in that game besides Windsor. Our girls are very focused and determined on taking it.”
The teams met on Jan. 16 with Windsor pulling out a 51-45 win in a back-and-forth game.
“They had some leads,” said Windsor coach Brad Forrest. “We were able to get the lead at each quarter but every time we took the lead they were able to answer back.”
In that game, Windsor junior point guard Bailey Rollins held Tipton senior point guard Caroline Combs scoreless most of the way.
“Last time we played them some man and put Rollins on her and she scored two points,” Forrest said. “We just have to keep an eye on where she’s at and make sure she doesn’t get an open look at a three point shot.”
Combs was able to get open looks on Tuesday against Sacred Heart, shooting over the Gremlins’ zone as her teammates would find her with skip passes after Sacred Heart overloaded its defense to cover a Tipton player in the corner. That play resulted in four Combs 3-pointers.
“They were mostly just moving,” Combs said. “They were seeing the open spots, getting open. When they draw defenders, they knew they were going to rotate over and they knew they would sink away from me and if I wasn’t open, there was going to be somebody open.”
Combs finished with 17 points in the tournament semifinal. The player guarding her tonight, Rollins, scored 14 points including a perfect 8 for 8 from the free throw line while going against Cole Camp’s Kimmi Finkiewicz and Kaleena Logan. Rollins scored 13 in her first meeting with Tipton this season, a game Culpepper said gave his younger guards a good idea of what to expect from someone Culpepper said is the best point guard Tipton will face this year.
“For our guards, it was learning more when to take our chances,” he said. “On her, you can’t gamble as much. I tell the girls all the time, Bailey Rollins is not going to throw the ball into your hands, she’s smarter than that. You’ve got to play good defense on her and make somebody else knock down the shot.”
Windsor comes into the game with a size advantage in the front-court. Tipton will send 5-10 center Paige Baker, 5-9 forward Jessica Petree and 5-8 forward Angela Petree against Windsor’s front line of 6-0 Shelby Williams and 5-10 Breanna Bowers.
“Last time we were able to get the ball inside and Shelby ended up with 14 points,” Forrest said. “We were able to get some buckets in there. We just have to be patient.”
“They have some bigger girls so it’s going to be harder in the post,” Combs said. “We’re going to have to really work on staying down on defense and just stay in front of them and deny the inlet pass as best we can and put more pressure on the guards.”
Eventually Windsor made the final run in the regular season game and pulled out a win and Forrest got an idea of what to expect from the Lady Cardinals.
“They play hard,” he said. “They’re going to get after it. They never stop. Jason’s done a good job of getting them to play the whole time.”
Culpepper sees in Windsor a veteran team, something he hopes his Tipton squad can become.
“I think our girls have the confidence to play them. I think that game at Windsor where we had the lead in the last couple of minutes and then lost, I think that told our girls a couple of things; we need to work on how to close games and we’re there. Not to be playing scared, to be the aggressor.”
Cole Camp will play Sacred Heart in the third-place game at 6:30 p.m.
In the consolation final at 4:30 p.m. Stover will face Smithton. Stover beat La Monte 51-31 on Tuesday while Smithton got a 3-point play from Mariah Cairer with 23 seconds left to beat Lincoln 40-38.