Second-round showdown pits #3 Minden against West Ouachita

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The Lady Tiders are gearing up to host their second-straight playoff home game as they take on West Ouachita tonight at 6 p.m. at The Palace.

There’s no way around it: Minden is the better team and should win this game.

As good as the Lady Tiders have been recently (nine straight wins including toppling #1 Benton), head coach Jacob Brown sees areas of improvement.

“We have to rebound the initial miss better,” Brown said. “We need to clean up our rebounding. We defend well against the initial sets, but we give up too many second chances.”

The Tiders play so hard that giving up second-chance baskets can be demoralizing because it wipes away all of the effort that led to the initial shot.

Minden’s feisty defense starts with point guard Janiya Reed. The explosive and quick guard gets after her opponent, usually picking them up full-court.

The Tiders have so much length that they can usually afford to go for steals as even misses can be made up for by blocks at the rim by Bre Rodgers and Derrica Gilbert.

Shaniah Washington was missing from the Lady Tiders’ opening-round win over Northwood, but she should be back for tonight’s game. 

Washington is a role player on offense, but she shines defensively. Her energy is unmatched, and she is as tough as they come.

Minden isn’t the deepest team, but if they can get solid contributions from two or three players off the bench, they will be in solid shape.

With a win, Minden would likely square off with #6 DeRidder in the third round, a rematch of a 47-37 Minden win from Dec. 27.

Minden won that game in the “Doc” Edwards Memorial tournament earlier this season, but DeRidder touts LSU signee Domonique Davis on their squad.

Brown isn’t the type of coach to look ahead, but I’m sure he’s had a peak at the bracket thus far.

Tonight’s game could be the last one of the season in which Minden is the heavy favorite.

DeRidder, #2 Warren Easton, and #1 Benton provide a gauntlet for Minden to power through if they want to win the title. 

Minden has already beaten two of those teams this season. They can beat any team in the state.

The key is to take it one game at a time. That starts with tonight’s game against West Ouachita.

“We hope our community will come out and support us,” Brown said. “It’s not often you get to play at home in front of your fans in the second round.”

It’s not often you get to see a team this talented up close. The Lady Tiders are as good a team as you will find in the state.

“Our girls are so excited to play in front of our crowd,” Brown said.

In the Feb. 5 win over Benton, The Palace was packed and rocking. It was one of the most special atmospheres I’ve experienced in high school basketball in years. It gave the Tiders an advantage and helped them win. That’s what home-court advantage is supposed to do.

In the first round against Northwood, not so much. There was a solid turnout, but nothing like the Benton game. 

Minden deserves a crowd like the former for every game from here on out. They are a state-championship caliber team, and the student-body and community should come out and support them.

There isn’t another game going on tonight, and the supporters shouldn’t assume Minden will win in a blowout. 

It’s the playoffs: anything can happen.

More importantly, it’s just more fun when The Palace is packed. 

It sends me back to when I was younger. High school basketball games were the hot ticket, especially around playoff time.

The games are exciting (and short), and there’s nothing like the intimacy of a high school gym to get a fan’s adrenaline going.

Admission for tonight’s game is $9, but it’s worth every penny to support one of the best teams the city has seen in years.

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