Beaufort Academy facing Richard Winn in SCISAA Class 2-A girls basketball semifinals

mmccombs@islandpacket.comFebruary 27, 2014 

When Beaufort Academy girls basketball coach Brock Vaigneur watched Richard Winn on film, something jumped out at him.

It wasn't how long and lean the Eagles were, or how athletic, or simply how good they were. Though, he noticed all of those things.

No. Vaigneur noticed how excited they were to play the game.

"They have a passion. They really enjoy basketball," Vaigneur said of Richard Winn (25-1), Beaufort Academy's opponent in Thursday's SCISAA Class 2-A girls basketball semifinal. "We will match their passion and their will to win, I guarantee you that. But we've got to rise up to their level of play."

That's going to be tough. Richard Winn returned everybody from last season's team that won the state title.

"They're pretty good. Probably not quite as good as Hilton Head Christian, someone we played," Vaigneur said. "But they haven't really been challenged all year. They're definitely the class of 2-A."

Vaigneur said Richard Winn's size and physicality are obstacles his girls must overcome.

"On defense, they like to run a three-quarter-court press with a tall player at the point," Vaigneur said. "Then down low, they're bigger than us. We've been working on being physical. But we're not going to be able to jump with them."

The leader for Richard Winn is senior guard Carson Justice, who averages 3.7 assists, 3.1 steals and 4.0 rebounds to go with her team-high 14.7 points per game. Sophomore center Johnson Jaycie is second on the team with 11.4 points per game. She also averages 3.5 rebounds, 1.6 steals and a block per game. Junior forward Jessie Stidham averages 9.9 points and 4.5 rebounds.

Beaufort Academy, of course, is led by senior standout Miranda Weslake. She leads the team with 24.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.1 steals per game. Much of Beaufort Academy's success is built around Weslake's ability to turn turnovers into points.

Vaigneur said he will likely employ a halfcourt press.

"It's going to have to work for us to win," Vaigneur said. "We struggle a little in the halfcourt. In order for us to win, we're going to have to protect the basketball -- everybody, not just Miranda -- and force turnovers.

SCISAA Class 2-A state semifinal

Beaufort Academy (18-6) vs. Richard Winn (25-1)

6:30 p.m., Sumter Civic Center

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