Size and strength against speed and agility.
The talking is over and hypothetical situations can be thrown out the window.
When Star City and Farmington tip off today’s 4A girls state championship game in Hot Springs, it comes down to which team’s attributes will rise to the occasion.
Star City lives off speed and defense. Farmington relies on physical strength and length.
Star City coach Becky Brown, seeking her first state title, believes the Lady Dogs are in a good position to hang another state championship banner, this time on her watch.
“They have height. We have speed,” Brown said. “I feel good about our matchups. I think we pass on some and it’s a push on some. But I think we match up better with them than they match up with us, just because of the speed. We are hoping.”
It’s been a good formula so far for Star City. Entering the season finale with a 31-1 record and riding a 24-game winning streak, the Lady Dogs have used pressure defense and fast-break opportunities to reach the title game.
“We have to defend the boards and limit turnovers,” Farmington coach Brad Johnson said. “They do a great job of creating points off turnovers. They run the length of the floor very quickly.”
Johnson, in his third year and seeking his first state title, added that Star City lulls their opponents into making bad decisions.
“They can use one to two minutes or more per possession,” he said. “If they back it out and take time, it’s easy to go down to the other end and rush shots. We have to be smart with the ball on offense and just defend.”
Brown said one of the keys to earning her first state title is stopping Farmington senior forward Brea Jones, who leads the Lady Cardinals with 13 points per game. She also believes the Lady Dogs have an advantage by not having one dominant player.
“(Jones) is their go-to girl,” said Brown. “I think we have a well-balanced team. It’s hard to single one kid out. I think if you single one kid out that you’re going to get burned by another one.”
Johnson thinks Star City senior point guard Juquecia Chaney is the motor that runs the Lady Dogs.
“She is just dynamite from the point,” Johnson said. “As far as a fan, she is fun to watch. As an opposing coach, she can make you lose a lot of sleep. We are going to have to focus on her.”
Johnson said the Lady Cards would use multiple defensive sets in an attempt to slow down Chaney and the Lady Dogs’ offense while creating mismatches on the offensive end of the floor.
“We are going to have to move well without the ball,” he said. “When you can do that, it usually creates open scoring opportunities.”
Brown holds Farmington senior point guard Tiffany Rhame in the same regard Johnson does Chaney.
“(Rhame) creates for them,” Brown said. “We have to stop her. And we can’t let any one player score too many points. If they have a player score 15 or 20 points, that can be enough to beat you.”
Farmington enters the affair with a 26-7 record and failed to claim a title of any kind this year. The Lady Cards were conference runners-up, district runners-up and regional runners-up before making a run through the state tournament to land in their third title game of the season.
In contrast, Star City finished the conference slate with an unblemished 14-0 record and claimed the regional tournament title in Dumas.
“It’s going to come down to a battle of wills,” Johnson said. “(Brown) does a great job of imposing her game on you. Our kids are going to have to stay focused. We can’t try to do more than we are capable of doing. We have to be mentally tough and not panic. They are going to play tough defense and we know that. We just can’t let defensive frustration carry over to our offense.”