Quay Dunn was a force in the paint leading all scorers with 16 points, but the Lady Indians struggled early with Leake’s physical defense and trailed 13-9 after the first quarter.
Key second quarter 3-pointers from Aaliyah Marshall and Jamiya Hill, coupled with a more intense, physical style of play, helped IAHS turn the momentum in its favor for good.
“It kinda seems to be our strategy here the last few games,” said IAHS head coach Amanda Morrow about her team’s slow starts. “We just decided to make some defensive adjustments that fit better. When you get into the playoffs, you have to be prepared for anything.”
MaChasity Leflore and Sharayne Walton in the post, as well as Mia Colemon on the outside, helped the Lady Gators (20-7) jump out to a quick seven-point lead.
IAHS (19-9) responded, however, as Dunn and Kim Mallory’s inside work drew fouls that limited one of Leake’s biggest weapons.
“Quay’s presence in the post was really important,” Morrow said. “Not only her scoring efforts, but she helped get (Leflore) in foul trouble and that was huge for us tonight.”
IAHS rallied to take a slim three-point lead into halftime, but really began to take control in the third as Mallory, 13 points, and Dunn began to wreak havoc on a reeling Leake defense.
Down by as many as 14 in the second half, the Lady Gators were unable to muster the offensive firepower to mount a comeback.
Walton and Byronica Beamon led Leake with 14 and 12 points respectively.
Marshall rounded out the IAHS double-digit scorers with 10 points.