STATE NOTEBOOK: Top-ranked Lady Eagles fueling run with defense, intangibles
Feb. 28—Across the state, Cold Springs has become synonymous with one fear-inducing attribute — the ability to sink the 3-point shot.
Under longtime coach Tammy West, the Lady Eagles have seemingly replaced one group of great shooters with another, reloading rather than rebuilding, en route to winning four state championships.
With 31 victories this season, West's top-ranked Class 2A squad is certainly living up to the program's reputation.
The Blue and Gold, however, have fueled this particular run with their defense and intangibles, overcoming a recent stretch of tough shooting performances to earn a spot in Friday's state title contest against No. 2 Mars Hill Bible.
In two regional meetings (Tuscaloosa Academy and No. 9 Francis Marion) and Monday's semifinal tilt (No. 3 Lanett), Cold Springs combined to make just 26 of its 85 3-point attempts — a 31 percent success rate.
The Lady Eagles countered those numbers by playing suffocating defense, limiting those aforementioned opponents to 33 percent shooting (52 of 160) from the field.
That includes holding Lanett to its second-lowest scoring output of the season in a 44-37 victory.
It's not just the defense, either.
Cold Springs has supplemented its chase for the Blue Map by having players step up in key moments — be it sinking free throws, delivering the extra pass, pulling down rebounds or staying calm in the face of adversity.
For West, it's been a sight to behold.
"It shows how well-rounded this team is and how well they play together," she said. "They have a willingness to do what it takes. They're unselfish, don't care who scores. It's impressive to watch. There's just a lot of balance on this team. Our focus starting this season was on defense and rebounding. We really made it a point of emphasis that we find other ways to win."
Paige Parker Adams knows a thing or two about shining under the bright lights.
The Cold Springs graduate won a pair of state titles as a player, netting 16 points in a 55-54 win over Ragland (2008) and corralling a 29-point, 10-rebound double-double in a 75-60 win over Ider (2009).
Those performances allowed Parker Adams, now in her third season as an assistant, to secure MVP honors in back-to-back seasons.
As the Lady Eagles attempt to bring home another state title, Adams is enjoying the view from another perspective.
"It's been awesome to sit back in a different pair of shoes than actually playing," Parker Adams said. "When you get down there, all the awesome memories rush in. It was a dream in high school to hopefully come back and help coach this program alongside Mrs. West. It's really come full circle."
West, meanwhile, couldn't be more thankful to have her former pupil by her side.
"She's such a calm person," West said. "She will see little things that you can't see when you're coaching the whole team. It's great that she knows me, too. Being there with me all those years has helped me so much now. She knows what we're trying to learn and trying to do, because she did it. She has a lot of knowledge stored up."