Gallagher column: How’bout a fourth Salisbury-East Davidson game?

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 20, 2009

LEXINGTON ó Salisbury girls coach Andrew Mitchell knows his team is talented enough to reach the 2A Western Regional. And he has a request for all of the teams on a similar path.
If you want to beat East Davidson before then, it’s OK by him.
“Everybody says we’re probably going to play again,” Mitchell said after his team’s 45-43 loss in the CCC tournament final Friday night. “I pray to God we get there, and I pray to God somebody knocks them off. If we can win the state without playing them, that would be great.”
Asked about another meeting between his top-ranked Golden Eagles and third-ranked Salisbury, East Davidson coach Terry Allmon replied, “I’ve got too many gray hairs. I don’t know if I can take another one.”

Both coaches smiled when they made the comments. Both are class acts, and they have players who follow their lead. Watching the teams shake hands after the game, you saw the respect.
“The utmost respect,” Mitchell said.
“Great respect,” Allmon added.
The fans must feel the same way. They packed the Central Davidson gym like sardines for the girls game. There was a buzz throughout the 32 minutes as both teams had their moments.
But like the other two games this season, East Davidson had just a little more at the end.
“We just have a lot of chemistry,” said East’s Alyssa Cutshaw, who drained four 3-pointers. “We play well together. If we can’t get it inside, we shoot outside. It’s hard to beat us because we have so many strengths.”
Like rallying. The Golden Eagles were unflappable after falling behind 33-26.
“We were down in the state championship game last year, so we knew we could come back,” Cutshaw said.
And East Davidson also has a lot of Anna Freeman. The 6-footer can do everything, and she could easily score 20 a game. But she would rather throw it around and let her teammates join in the fun.
Her 15 points didn’t say enough about what she meant Friday night with her passing, her rebounding and her leadership.
“What do I have to say about her except she’s one of, if not the, best players in the state,” Mitchell said. “She knows her job and how to carry her team. I respect her so much for that.
“I’d like to think Shi-Heria (Shipp) and Bubbles (Phifer) are just as good.”

Mitchell is joking about avoiding East. In fact, he enjoys it.
“You win by 30 and 40 all year long, and you never really get a chance to see what you’re made of,” he said. “East Davidson always brings out the best in us, and hopefully we bring out the best in them.”
That’s true, Freeman said.
“Salisbury’s a great team,” she said. “You never know what you’re going to get when you play them.”
Allmon heard that the conference championship meant little because the seeds were already set it stone.
“Try telling those girls in the white uniforms and the black uniforms that,” he said. “They wanted to win.”
Allmon expects the two to meet again.
“I don’t see anybody beating them,” he said of the Hornets.
And if a fourth matchup becomes a reality?
“They definitely can beat us,” Cutshaw said. “It will be a battle once again. It would be fun.”
You know what, Alyssa? It would be fun.
Let’s pray it happens.