No one ever said earning a chance to win a region title would be easy.

It certainly wasn’t that on Friday night for Sonoraville in their Region 6-AAA Semifinal showdown with Ringgold as the Lady Phoenix overcame a tough, gritty Lady Tiger squad to earn a 49-38 victory in a hard-fought, physical contest at The Furnace.

With the win, Sonoraville (20-3) advances to the Region 6-AAA Championship Game on Saturday night at 7 p.m. where they will square off against Coahulla Creek. The Lady Phoenix will be looking to win their third straight region crown.

In Friday’s win, the Lady Phoenix built an early lead thanks to some hot shooting from outside, but it was their defense that stepped up down the stretch to keep Ringgold (17-9) from getting too close to closing the distance on Sonoraville’s lead.

“It was an extremely physical game tonight, but I think both teams handled it well,” said Sonoraville head coach Stephanie Caudell. “We started the game off shooting it well. It’s always nice to start off that way and relax a little bit seeing the ball go in and get a lead early in the game. Once Ringgold got out of their zone defense and played man, it made it tougher on us to get good looks offensively. They played physical, and we kind of cooled off on offense. But we made enough plays in the second half to keep them from coming back all the way.

“It was physical, but that’s the way a lot of state tournament games are going to be. I think tonight was good preparation for that.”

The Lady Phoenix made all seven of their 3s in the first half as they led 18-10 after one quarter and 31-22 at the half. Lindsay Bowman and Abby Chambers each had three 3s in the first half.

The offense wasn’t as easy to come by in the second half, but Sonoraville’s Alexa Geary put her team on her back somewhat by getting to the basket and scoring some tough buckets as she contributed 12 of her team-leading 14 points over the final two quarters.

“(Alexa) struggled a little in the first half and forced a few things, but she stayed in the game and played well in the second half,” said Caudell. “She’s our closer most of the time as far as making tough shots later in the game. And she’s a great free throw shooter so it’s good to have the ball in her hands.”

Ringgold continued to battle in the second half, keeping the deficit to single digits at 41-32 at the end of the third quarter. They got as close as seven twice in the fourth quarter, but the Lady Phoenix didn’t allow them to get any closer.

“I thought Kinsley (Long) was big for us tonight in the middle defensively,” said Caudell. “She was a presence in there, and the way the game was played so physically allowed her to be aggressive blocking and contesting shots. Our perimeter defense closed on their shooters well and made it tough for Ringgold to get to the basket, but when they did Kinsley was the last line of defense in there.”

Along with Geary’s 14 points, Chambers and Bowman also finished in double figures in scoring with 12 and 11, respectively.

Ringgold’s Rachel Lopez had the top total in the game with 16 points, 10 coming in the final two quarters. Riley Nayadley and Maggie Reed each added eight points for the Lady Tigers.

Sonoraville has to turn around quickly to take on a tough Coahulla Creek team in the championship game on Saturday. The Lady Phoenix swept the two regular-season contests against the Lady Colts, but Caudell said she knows it will be a tough task to beat them for a third time especially with a region title on the line.

“We’ve had two tough games against them,” said Caudell. “They’ve won 20 games this year so that shows you right there they are a really good team. They are balanced and can score inside and outside. It’s a tough opponent to get ready for, but we’ve seen them twice and they’ve seen us twice so we both kind of know what to expect.

“I told the girls before this tournament that we’ve earned the right to host it, and it would be nice to play for a championship on our home court. It makes it even more exciting that the boys are playing for a region title too. It should be hopping in here tomorrow night.”

BOX SCORE:

Sonoraville Girls 49, Ringgold 38

RINGGOLD (38)

Nayadley 8, Reed 8, Pitts 4, Lopez 16, Hemphill 2

SONORAVILLE (49)

Parker 3, Pasley 2, Bowman 11, Chambers 12, Kelley 3, Geary 14, Long 4, Smith 2

Ring. 10 12 10 6—38

Son. 18 13 10 8—49

3-pointers – Ringgold 2 (Lopez 2); Sonoraville 7 (Bowman 3, Chambers 3, Kelley 1), Free Throws – Ringgold 0-0; Sonoraville 4-7, Records –Sonoraville 20-3.

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