The one player on the floor with playoff experience was the difference Tuesday night inside “The Dome.”
Junior point guard Amanda Paschal scored 32 points, dished out 11 assists and added six rebounds and four steals in leading Chipley to a 66-41 victory over Port St. Joe in a Region 1-1A quarterfinal.
Chipley, 21-5, advances to meet the winner of Holmes County-South Walton later this week. The Lady Tiger Sharks’ season ends at 16-12.
Paschal was the point guard on the Chipley team that reached the state title game last year, but the Lady Tigers graduated eight seniors from that squad.
Paschal, surrounded by one junior and three sophomores in the starting lineup, with just three seniors on the roster, has carried a heavier burden this season.
“Last year she had a great supporting cast and this year she doesn’t,” said Chipley coach Kim Tuel. “She had to step up and lead the way. She’s a fantastic ballplayer and as long as she is going like that we will be tough to beat.”
Paschal was in the middle of two critical swings in the game.
The first period was played with a frenetically choppy style, the teams combining for 15 turnovers – Port St. Joe would turn the ball over 22 times in the game – and as many missed shots.
In an omen of things to come, the Lady Tiger Sharks in particular had issues, missing a slew of easy chances, including seven shots in the lane in the first 7 minutes.
“We usually make those shots,” said Port St. Joe coach Kenny Parker. “We were a bit tight in the beginning.”
Early in the second quarter Paschal paced an 8-0 run that pushed the Chipley lead to 26-15, scoring twice inside and assisting on the other two buckets in the run.
The Lady Tiger Sharks pulled off an 8-0 run in response, but Chipley scored the final five points of the half and were up 31-23 at intermission.
Paschal ignited a 9-0 run in the opening minutes of the third quarter, scoring the last five points, including a three-point play, and the Lady Tigers were up 40-25.
Port St. Joe clawed back and had a chance to close the gap to 10-points with 3:41 left, but could not convert and Chipley streaked to six-straight points minutes later and closed the quarter up 50-33.
“We played like middle-schoolers tonight,” Parker said of his team which is actually of middle school age. The Lady Tiger Sharks have no seniors or juniors and three sophomores and start two eighth-graders. “I told them rebounding and defense win in the playoffs and we didn’t do either very well tonight.
“But we are likely to be right back here next year and the year after. We are both young teams.”
Chipley completely confounded a flagging Port St. Joe team in the final period, scoring the first eight points of the quarter while stifling Port St. Joe with changing defenses.
The Lady Tiger Sharks did themselves no favors, unable to convert inside against the Chipley man defense when they saw it and unable to hit outside against a 2-3 zone.
“We worked all week on switching, from man to a 2-3 to a 1-2-2 zone,” Tuel said. “We wanted to be ready for whatever they threw at us.”
Chipley – 16-15-19-19 _ 66
PSJ – 11-12-10-8 _ 41
Chipley – Lawson 4, Paschal 32, Massaline 8, Lee 2, Works 5, Williams 10, Potter 4.
Port St. Joe – Hutchinson 12, Patterson 2, Fleshner 9, A. Johnson 3, Quinn 11, Jasinski 4.