By Art Redd
SJSports Staff Writer
Shalamar Oakley erased all doubts about, if the Lady Tigers from Woodrow Wilson could finally beat the girl's basketball team from Highland High School. These two teams met in last year's semifinals game with the Lady Tartans pulling away to advance to the championship game. This year, Oakley's three pointer that beat the buzzer to end the first half was a good indication of things to come. Her twenty second half points highlighted the Tigers' 60-48 win at Cherry Hill East High School in semifinals action. With the win, the Lady Tigers will meet the Willingboro Lady Chimeras for the South Jersey Group 3 group championship.
It was quite evident that Wilson did not want to repeat last year's performance as the Lady Tigers stayed one step ahead of Highland the entire game. After tying the game in the second quarter and two Danielle Hemerka free throws in the third quarter, Highland would only get as close as 28-26 midway through the third. That's when DeVaughn Hailey knocked down two 3 pointers and Oakley's eleven point surge pushed Wilson to a 10 point lead. Hemerka was able to get inside and keep this game from being a blowout as see went 8 for 9 from the free throw line scoring 10 points in the quarter. But in the end, big free throws by Oakley and Hailey sealed the twelve-point victory.
Head coach Al Dyer implemented a defense that held Highland's offense in check by defending the sharp shooting Lisa Steele to just two points. That basket by Steele was her first points of the initial quarter as she went 1 for 7 from the field. Wilson would not wait around for their opponent to find their rhythm as Oakley was beginning to make her own string music on the court. Whether penetrating inside the lane or hearing the sound of the net go swish as the ball went through the hoop, Oakley set the tone early. The Tartans would fall behind by six points midway through the first, as Wilson was able to force several turnovers.
After an evenly played second and third quarters, Wilson would stay ahead of Highland with Stacey Digneo knocking down 3 three pointers during the game and Steele finding success in the final quarter. Highland's Danielle Hemerka finished with a team high 25 points and Lisa Steele added 12 points for the Lady Tartans. Woodrow Wilson's Shalamar Oakley led all scorers with 31 points while DeVaughn Hailey scored 15 points.