Eagle girls rout Cougars, 50-18
BERRYVILLE — A 6-0 run by Manassas Park that cut Clarke County’s lead to just four points made Eagles coach Tim Lawrence give his players a spirited talk at the end of the first quarter.
After Clarke’s players took the court for the second quarter, it was clear Lawrence’s players got the message.
The Eagles’ defense shut down Manassas Park, limiting the Cougars to just two points in both the second and third quarters as Clarke County rolled to a 50-18 win in the Bull Run District Tournament quarterfinals on Thursday.
The Eagles (19-4) will now face No. 2 Madison County — a 52-42 winner over No. 7 Strasburg in Thursday’s quarterfinals — in the first game of a semifinal doubleheader at top-seeded George Mason in Falls Church at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
Clarke County sophomore Sydney Chrane scored a game-high 13 points off the bench, and sophomore Anna Blue Catlett added 11 points to help the Eagles win their seventh in a row.
The Eagles reeled off 10-unanswered points to open the contest, but Manassas Park (3-17) closed the first quarter with three-straight layups by Tianna Woodson to cut Clarke’s lead to 10-6.
After Clarke’s players took a seat on the bench between quarters, senior guard Becky Smith said Lawrence made it clear he wanted the Eagles to maintain their trademark intensity and not allow easy buckets.
“We just needed to bear down and play as hard as we could and give it 110 percent,” said Smith, who scored eight points and had a team-high six steals. “Our main players stepped up and knew we had to get the job done. When we work together we’re good to go.”
Clarke County certainly got the job done over the next 16 minutes.
Chrane and Catlett combined for all 10 of the Eagles’ points in the opening quarter, but eight different Clarke players scored in the second. The Eagles’ defense — utilizing a full-court press at times — made it tough on Manassas Park, allowing only a jumper by Paulina Geoffroy with 5:22 left to help the Cougars trim the deficit to 15-8.
From there, Clarke reeled off 13-straight points to close the half. Anna Bodkin started the run, hitting the second of two free throws , and the Eagles’ defensive pressure led to many fast-break opportunities. Smith made two steals and scored on layups, and Allie Hicks capped the 13-0 run to end the quarter with a layup just before the buzzer to stake Clarke to a commanding 28-8 lead.
Clarke County’s defense forced Manassas Park to commit 15 turnovers (and 22 overall in the first half) and the Cougars went just 1 of 5 from the field in the second quarter.
The Eagles, who beat Manassas Park by a combined 91 points in two regular season meetings, limited the Cougars to less than 20 points for the second time this year.
Manassas Park had just two seniors in its starting five, and the Cougars have eight underclassmen on an 11-player roster. Cougars coach Dexter Haskins said his team gave a solid effort but were just overmatched.
“We’re just working every day to get better and they played hard and that’s all I can ask of them,” Haskins said. “[Clarke] was just the better team.”
Lawrence said he thought his team might have been a bit too complacent in the opening quarter, but he liked the intensity he saw from his players the rest of the way.
“I think we were just a little slow to get started tonight,” Lawrence said. “Once we got rolling after those first few possessions [of the second quarter] I think our defense really picked up. Our defense in the second half was very good. I was pleased with our effort. I thought it was much better.”
Woodson, who led Manassas Park with 10 points, scored on a putback with 6:15 left in the third, but the Eagles held the Cougars without another basket during the rest of the quarter. Chrane scored four points in Clarke’s 12-0 run to end the third, stretching the Eagles’ lead to 40-10.
“The kids bore down and worked a lot harder on the defensive end,” said Lawrence of his team’s play in the second and third quarters. “That’s what we have to hang our hat on every night. We have to make defense a priority.”
Chrane and Catlett combined for 24 through three quarters and then got to watch the rest of the contest from the bench.
Eagles senior Rachel Sefton finished with six points, five steals and three rebounds, and Bodkin added five points and three rebounds.
Clarke now faces Madison County in Tuesday’s tournament semifinals.
“Everyone’s stepping up real good right now,” said Chrane, who played well (four assists, four steals and three boards) off the bench despite having a slightly sprained left wrist. “We hope to go really far and our team’s going to come out strong and do the best we can to beat these [district] teams.”
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