Prattville Christian’s Elisabeth Kelley consistently found herself standing alone behind the arc Tuesday.
So the soft-spoken sophomore did exactly what her coaches teach her to do — shoot the ball.
Kelley knocked down six 3-pointers and Kristen Emerson registered a triple-double in Prattville Christian’s 55-34 victory over Aliceville in the semifinal of the Class 2A Central Regional to remain unbeaten.
The Panthers (32-0) will face R.C. Hatch (16-8) in Friday’s championship game.
Kelley’s shooting touch ignited a struggling PCA offense, which looked out of sync despite holding a double-digit lead most of the night. Her fourth 3-pointer to open the final period sparked a 15-2 surge to close out the game.
“It feels good to be able to help the team,” said Kelley, who scored 18 points. “It’s fun to have a big game on a big stage like this.”
It’s impossible to downplay Kelley’s contribution.
“Her 3-point shot definitely plays a major role on this team,” said Emerson, who finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds. “We would not have won that game without her. It definitely wasn’t me this game. It was all (Elisabeth).”
Aliceville coach Sebastian Shamery said his squad’s inability to play effective man-to-man defense was the sole reason behind the decision to remain in a zone.
“We’re not really a good man-to-man team, but with our speed I guessed we could recover back to their shooters,” he explained. “(PCA) found the open shooters, and they were knocking them down.”
It was a good thing Kelley didn’t shy away from the spotlight, because Emerson struggled. The 6-foot-2 Troy signee finished as the game’s high scorer, but she connected on just 5-of-16 shots and made only half of her 14 free-throw attempts.
Panthers coach Jason Roberson believed his star was pressing. Before transferring to PCA, Emerson suited up for the 2011-12 Marbury basketball squad, which was ousted during the semis here at last season’s 3A regional tournament.
“She could have had a monster game, and she knows it,” Roberson said. “I am hoping she got some of the nerves out of the way and she comes to play the way I know she can play on Friday. She means so much to this team, because even though she didn’t have her best game, she still means the world to this team.”
Despite her troubles on offense, Emerson showcased her versatility with 10 blocks.
“I know my shots are not always going to fall, so I know I am going to have to make up for it on defense,” the senior said.
The Yellow Jackets (21-7) didn’t have a single player score in double figures.
“We’re not a 3-point shooting team,” said Shamery, whose team shot 21 percent (7-of-32) through the first two quarters. “We play team ball, so for us to come down on offense make one pass and jack up a 3, that’s not our game.”