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Luella girls hope third time’s the charm against Alcovy

LOCUST GROVE — Luella girls basketball team knows both sides of the axiom that it’s hard to beat the same team three times in one season.

The Lady Lions lost three times to Woodland in non-region games, but also defeated region opponent Lovejoy three times, most recently in a 58-31 victory in the Region 2-AAAAAA tournament Tuesday to clinch a county record sixth straight state playoff appearance.

But Luella is hoping to avoid the Woodland scenario against top-seed Alcovy in the region semifinals at 7 p.m. The Lady Lions lost twice to the Lady Tigers during the regular season.

“You’ve seen each other twice,” Luella first-year coach Michelle Smith said. “You know tendencies. You know players. You know coaches. The team that wins [the third game] pays attention to details, rebounds, keeping turnovers down, stays away from silly fouls.”

The two regular season games were markedly different.

On the road, Luella pushed Alcovy (19-6) to its second closest victory during the regular season. The Lady Lions fell behind by 13 but stormed back only to fall short in a 46-44 loss.

At home, Luella (12-9) didn’t stand a chance. The Lady Lions came out flat and never recovered in a 46-30 loss on Senior Night in their regular season finale.

So that’s where Smith began practice Thursday.

“I asked the girls about their biggest mistakes in the game,” she said. “Turnovers really killed us. Boxing out, little things. We pay attention to those things, cut down on turnovers, make good passes, I think we can play with them.”

Alcovy established itself as a notch above the rest of the region. The Lady Tigers went a perfect 12-0 during region play and come into tonight’s game on a 11-game winning streak.

“They’re just a great group of girls,” Smith said. “They’re talented at all five positions. They’re well-coached. They play well together. They have that chemistry. And being well-coached, that makes for a dangerous team.”

But Luella has experience on its side, knowing it can play with the Lady Tigers.

And they know a chance to play for their first region championship is just one game away.

“We know what it’s going to take,” Smith said. “