Saturday, January 13, 2001

Sisters lead Newport into 'All A' finals




By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer contributor

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Newport's Jessica Beatsch (right) collides with Bellevue's Amy Delaney while competing for a rebound.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
| ZOOM |
        NEWPORT — Ask Newport's Stephanie and Tiffani Atkins who is the better basketball player, and the sisters point at themselves. Both were pretty good against Bellevue in Friday's Touchstone Energy All “A” Ninth Region semifinals.

        Senior Stephanie had 18 points and 10 rebounds in the Wildcats' 71-27 victory, while sophomore Tiffani added a career-high 16 points.

        Newport meets Newport Central Catholic for the title at 7:30 p.m. today. The winner meets the Third Region champion at noon Jan.23 in the opening round of the state tournament in Richmond.

        Tiffani Atkins wasn't upset at finishing second in the scorebook.

        “It's OK; I beat her sometimes,” Tiffani said. “She won tonight.”

        A win tonight would make Newport the second team to defend its small-school regional title since girls basketball was added to the All “A” in 1991. Holy Cross won three straight from 1997-99.

        Newport (11-5) lost one player from last season's regional champions. But are the Wildcats a better team?

        “I think we're a better team on defense,” coach Aric Russell said. “We're trying to find ourselves on offense.”

        Stephanie Atkins said her teammates are simply learning to relax.

        “We were supposed to beat people (last year),” Stephanie said. “We started to argue and be mad at each other.”

        Friday was Tiffani Atkins' second game of the season.

        “I was ineligible because of bad grades,” Tiffani said. “I thought I would be able to play even with bad grades; it didn't work.”

        Little went right for Bellevue on Friday.

        First, senior forward Kim Holliman's bucket with 5:31 left in the first quarter accounted for the Tigers' only points in the first eight minutes. Newport followed that with a 9-0 run for a 15-2 lead after a quarter.

        Things got worse for Bellevue.

        Holliman scored another bucket 32 seconds into the second quarter, but 50 seconds later she went out with a right knee injury. The Tigers were 3-of-22 from the field for the half.

        Thanks to Stephanie Atkins, Newport had no such trouble. She had 12 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals in the first half.

        BELLEVUE (27) — Ervin 2 0 4, Delaney 2 2 6, Myers 1 0 2, Holliman 2 0 4, Mulligan 1 7 9, Bell 1 0 2. Totals: 9 9 27.

        NEWPORT (71) — Clark 1 0 2, Seibert 2 1 5, Beatsch 1 3 6, Stegner 0 1 1, Jones 3 0 7, Runion 1 0 2, Mills 3 2 9, S. Atkins 8 2 18, T. Atkins 8 0 16, Raisor 1 0 2, Williams 1 1 3. Totals: 29 10 71.

        Bellevue ....... 2 5 16 4-27

        Newport ....... 15 25 10 21-71

        Three-point goals: B-none; N-Beatsch, Jones, Mills. Records: B 7-5, N 11-5.

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