STONEWALL — Stonewall coach Christie Jennings and Coalgate head man Jim Jenson both talk about Friday’s showdown between the area’s top two girls’ basketball teams in terms of what the game could mean to their clubs down the road. But that doesn’t mean either coach is looking past Friday.

“It’s a big game around the area for our fans,” said Jenson, whose club is 16-0 and ranked No. 5 in Class 2A. “Stonewall is possibly the best team on our schedule, and it’s getting near the playoffs. We have to start getting playoff-ready, and this is a big test for us. If we can get through this week unscathed, it will be huge.”

Stonewall, ranked No. 7 in Class A, improved to 18-1 with Saturday’s 53-41 victory over then-No. 11 Strother, and the Coalgate game — preceded by tournament contests against Class B No. 18 Tupelo and Strother and followed by a visit to Allen Tuesday — is part of a rugged four-game late-season stretch for the Lady Longhorns.

“This game won’t make or break us, because our playoff seeding is already decided,” said Jennings, who directed Stonewall to a surprising 18-8 mark last year in her first season as head coach. “We’re glad to be playing somebody who is SUPPOSED to beat us.

“Our schedule the rest of the way prepares us for the playoffs,” she added. “Coalgate is going to pressure us, and Allen plays a match-up zone, so we’ll get to see the whole spectrum.”

Coalgate and Stonewall are almost mirror images of each other, with good size inside, quickness in the backcourt and defenses that force turnovers and consistently hold opponents under 40 points.

The Lady Wildcats are led by center Mallory Walker — a 6-1 sophomore who has come out of nowhere to become arguably the area’s top female post player this season — and junior Teran Mixon, an all-around performer who has done an outstanding job at point guard replacing Kacee McCulley, who graduated after leading Coalgate to the school’s first area tournament in more than half a century last year. Walker is averaging 17 points and seven rebounds per game, and she kept the Lady Wildcats unbeaten with a buzzer-beater in Saturday’s 35-34 victory over Healdton in the championship game of the Tushka Invitational Tournament.

“They might be a little quicker than us, but I think our post players are quicker than theirs,” Jennings noted. “If Walker gets the ball down low, she’s usually going to score. She’s much improved from last year.”

Like Coalgate, Stonewall has gotten production from players up and down the roster this season. Junior forward Felicia Logsdon — like Mixon one of the area’s best all-around players — and center Rena Serpa give the Lady Longhorns a strong inside presence, sophomore guards Tesia Worcester and Cherokee Brown provide quickness, defense and an occasional 3-pointer, and forward Tobie Daniel is one of the area’s most under-appreciated players. Junior Kristie Byrd is one of the area’s most effective sixth men and heads a bench that, like Coalgate’s has gotten better as the season has progressed.

“They’ve played well all year, and they’ve got all the pieces together,” Jenson said of the Lady Longhorns, who have won four straight games since a 57-53 loss at Latta to close out the 2005 portion of their schedule. “They’ve got a good post game and really good guard play. Christie’s doing a good job with them. They have our attention.”

Despite her club’s sparkling record and tournament win last week, Jennings said she doesn’t believe the Lady Longhorns have played their best.

“We didn’t play very well at the S.T.A.R. Tournament,” she said. “We played pretty well the second half against Strother, but the rest of the tournament was kind of ugly.

“Last year, we peaked in the S.T.A.R. Tournament, but this year we haven’t peaked yet,” Jennings added. “I guess that’s a good thing.”

And, although the girls game will get most of the attention, Friday’s Stonewall-Coalgate boys contest should also be entertaining.

The Longhorns improved to 11-8 with Saturday’s overtime victory over Allen in the S.T.A.R. third-place game, and the Wildcats were third at the Tushka tournament and will come into Friday’s game at 10-6 on the season after Tuesday’s loss to Atoka.

Stonewall is led by the 1-2 punch of guard Brian Monroe and center Bo Scribner, who combined for 53 points (33 by Monroe) in Saturday’s victory over Allen, and Coalgate has one of the area’s top players in senior Daniel Stingley.