James Wood girls hold off Judges, 48-47
Posted: February 9, 2013
WINCHESTER — For as bad as they looked during stretches of the first half, it was easy to wonder whether or not the James Wood girls’ basketball team would ever find their stride Friday evening.
Turnovers, poor defense and a lack of aggression allowed Handley to run up its lead to as much as 12 points over the first 16 minutes of action and left the Colonels staring at an eight-point deficit as both teams headed into the locker rooms at halftime.
The Judges probably wish they’d never come back out.
Beginning with six straight points to open the third quarter, James Wood played inspired in the second half, retaking the lead by the end of the third quarter and then holding on for a 48-47 win over Handley at Maddex-Omps Gymnasium.
The game marked the end of the regular season for both teams. Handley will face Skyline in the Northwestern District Tournament play-in game on Monday while James Wood will play in the semifinals on Tuesday — thanks largely to its second-half performance Friday.
“We came in at halftime and we had a little discussion about our defense or lack thereof,” said James Wood coach Rhonda Slider, whose team trailed 29-21 coming out of halftime. “We came out and we weren’t intense, we weren’t ready. So we talked about picking up the pace and getting our energy level and our intensity up.”
That was evident from the opening play of the third quarter when Colonels guard Keiana Brooks (nine points, six rebounds and six steals) drove through the Judges’ defense for a layup.
A pair of free throws from sophomore Sarah Johnson and a another layup for Brooks, this time off a steal, brought James Wood (12-10, 4-4 Northwestern) to within two at 29-27.
Handley (10-10, 2-6) would respond with a 4-0 run of its own, capped by a jumper from freshman Alysandra Worrell (13 points, four rebounds and four assists), but the Judges would not score another basket in the quarter.
Playing a 3-2 zone that pressured the Handley ball-handlers well beyond the 3-point line, the Colonels made it difficult for the Judges to find any space with which to operate.
Junior Laura Seymour (five points) scored off a Handley turnover, sophomore Morgan Duncan (18 points and nine rebounds) converted a putback and by the time Brooks followed up her own miss in the lane, the Judges found themselves staring at a 36-35 deficit heading into the fourth quarter.
“They scored three times within the first [90 seconds] of the third quarter and the momentum swung right in James Wood’s favor and we never recovered,” said Handley assistant coach Randolph Martin. “We only scored six points in the third quarter, which was a disaster, and our turnover ratio was killing us.
“They used a zone and we were throwing the ball away. Even when we’d get a stop on defense and seem to get some momentum, we’d come right back down and throw the ball away.”
Poor shooting by both teams kept the game close in the fourth quarter and layups by Handley freshman Angelica Robinson (12 points and eight rebounds) and teammate Tomekia Waller (10 points) brought the Judges to within one at 45-44.
But Robinson, who had been in foul trouble for most of the game, ended up picking up her fifth with 1:19 remaining in the game and a pair of free throws from Duncan and one from junior Brooke Nesselrodt put the game out of reach.
Handley sophomore Miriah Smith (seven points) banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make it a one-point victory.
“We needed this game,” Duncan said. “We weren’t very patient [in the first half] and we didn’t have any intensity or focus. The halftime talk helped us a lot, it picked our head up and made us see we could come back even though we were down.”
The Judges used an 11-2 run midway through the second quarter to open up their biggest lead of the game at 25-13.
Smith scored off an inbounds play, Robinson knocked down a 3-pointer and Worrell hit a short jumper and slashed to the basket for a pair of layups to put the Colonels on the ropes, but Handley just couldn’t keep them there.
For the game the Judges shot just 28 percent (17 for 61) from the field, including 20 percent (5 for 25) in the second half, and turned the ball over 22 times.
James Wood wasn’t much better, finishing 17 for 49 (35 percent) for the game with 23 turnovers.
The end result was all that mattered for Slider and the Colonels, though.
“I think we would have had to play a tiebreaker Handley [had James Wood lost] in order to figure out who would have had to play in the play-in game, so it’s very nice to avoid that,” Slider said. “We obviously wanted to be in third place [in the district] after tonight’s game and it’s nice to get that done.
“It was a little iffy there for a while, Handley did a great job. They came in as a young team and they put it to us. It was worrisome up until the last buzzer.”
-- Contact Kevin Trudgeon at firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow on Twitter @WinStarSports1