The Branford girls basketball team will have to navigate through some difficult opponents during this week’s District 6-Class 1A Tournament.
Some good news for the Bucs though is they will get back an important part of the team in 6-foot-1 center Lachelle Sikes.
“She adds a lot to the team,” said BHS coach Carla Suggs. “She has been hurt with an ankle injury, but I feel good about the district tournament with everyone healthy.”
Branford (12-9), which enters as the No. 3 seed in the six-team district, is led by junior guard Cera McElreath. In addition to leading the team in scoring, McElreath averages seven rebounds and five steals per game.
Twins Kyla and Kayla Desmartin will also play an important role in the tournament. The Buccaneers like to feature a full-court press and average 12 steals per game, with the Desmartins as key pieces of that defense. They are also important on offense, combining for more than 20 points per game.
Branford hosted Union County on Tuesday with the winner moving on to face No. 2 seed Hilliard on Thursday. On the other side of the bracket, the winner of Bell vs. Fort White will take on No. 1 seed Trenton.
In their only meeting during the regular season, Branford defeated Union County 53-29 behind 19 points from McElreath and 11 from Sikes.
The Buccaneers lost to Hilliard twice, but Sikes was out both of those games.
“Trenton is the team to beat, but everyone is tough,” said Suggs. “We’ve got to make some shots.”
Lafayette looks for fourth straight district title
After being the heavy favorite in District 5-Class 1A the past three seasons, the Lafayette High girls basketball team enters this postseason in a different position. The Hornets are still contenders, for both a district title and a state title, but they haven’t been able to defeat Madison County in two tries this season.
“Hamilton and Madison can create problems for us, so we need to be fully prepared,” said LHS coach Jimmy Blankenship. “We are starting to be more consistent playing. We need to shoot the ball better, defend better and cut down on turnovers. If we can do that, then I like our chances.”
There’s also senior standout Renee Clines, who can take over the game at any time for the Hornets. Clines comes into the tournament averaging 24 points per game.
“Renee Clines is our leader. She needs to play well,” said Blankenship. “Plus other players need to play well – Charlie James with her defense and her shooting, Brooklyn Fleming and Emily Lyons controlling the boards, Haley Rosenbaum running our offense and we need the bench to play good.”
Lafayette (15-7) has won six of its last eight games. LHS has three players averaging 10 or more points this season with Clines, Fleming and Rosenbaum.
No. 2 seed Lafayette kicks off the tournament on Thursday against Hamilton County.