The Lady Eagles (24-6) gave up an average of 35 points per game while scoring 59 points during the 5-AAA high school basketball team's regular season. Cartersville (19-11) scored 56 points per outing and the 7-AAA team gave up 52 points. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.
Head coach Donna Enis said the pressure will be nonstop again for her Lady Purple Hurricanes in the Elite 8 round of the state playoffs against Columbia, which is currently ranked No. 7 in the state coaches poll.
"They've been ranked No. 1 in the state most of the season," she said. "They don't give up many points, and they bring a lot of pressure. The key for us is being able to handle that pressure."
The Lady Canes have had a steady diet of pressure since the regular season ended.
"We still have turnovers, but the kids have gotten more comfortable at what we're trying to do," she said. "We try to show them the things they'll likely see and what to do if they see it. They've gotten better at doing that."
She said Columbia has a good press, comparing it with an earlier playoff opponent. "I think Stone Mountain gave us a good preview of what to expect."
She said familiarity should help, but the Lady Canes still have to handle what's presented on the court. "I feel that is the biggest test we've faced. We will see what they do and what we need to do. I feel if we can keep the game close, it will be to our advantage."
The coach said another key lies in limiting Columbia's big scoring runs and responding to them. "In basketball, it's a game of runs. It's about matching their runs and kind of slowing some of them down and weathering what they've thrown at us."
The two teams have a common foe -- Allatoona.
The Decatur school limited the Lady Buccaneers defensively in grabbing a 58-35 win in the first round of the state playoffs. That's enough to catch the attention of Lady Hurricane followers since Cartersville played Allatoona three times, claiming its single victory against them in the area playoffs.
Enis said while Columbia's final score is impressive, Allatoona was within three points about midway in the third quarter and failed to match a 6-0 run, then the roof collapsed on them.
"Allatoona just couldn't get back in it after that," she said.
Enis said Cartersville not only has experience playing against pressure, but she said it gets strong play from its bench. "I feel one of our strengths is our bench play. There definitely is no dropoff [in talent] when we come off the bench. Probably the people coming off our bench are stronger than any other team's bench. We've had some advantages there."
That bench helps the Lady Canes attack presses and also gives it different options when matching up with opponents, in terms of height and quickness.
Enis said the Canes also are playing their best ball of the season right now.
"We have three freshmen starters and it probably took us 15 games to get to the point that we were comfortable with the speed of the game and with the play of teammates," she said. "Every thing has come together at the right time for us."
Columbia will be formidable, she said, but added she feels the Lady Cane inside players can match up.
"Their wing players may have an inch or two on us and some wing span, but I feel we're evenly matched and it will come down to execution," the Cartersville coach said.
She added that although Columbia is good, the Lady Canes know that any team they line up against at this point will be very talented.
"When you get to this level (Elite 8) you can expect every team to be good. We stood toe to toe with Dalton, the state's No. 2-ranked team, and hopefully we can stand toe-to-toe with Columbia."