James Wood girls roll over SVCA, 62-43

Posted: January 13, 2014

Special to The Winchester Star

James Wood’s Whitney Dick scored eight points in the Colonels’ 62-43 non-district win over Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy on Saturday night. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)
James Wood senior Laura Seymour scored nine points in the Colonels’ 62-43 non-district victory over Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy at Donald H. Shirley Gymnasium on Saturday night. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — It’s often said that one of the best remedies for a loss is to get back out the next day and try to get back on track with a win.

The James Wood girls’ basketball team took this adage to heart by playing a solid first half against visiting Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy, rolling out to an 18-point lead by intermission and coasting on to a 62-43 non-district Saturday night at Donald H. Shirley Gymnasium.

The Colonels (8-2 overall) did not have such a good first half on Friday in a 69-53 Northwestern District home loss to Millbrook, allowing the Pioneers to get hot from outside in the second quarter and eventually falling out of contention deep into the second half. There was no such problem at the task at hand with the Patriots (8-5) as James Wood was fluid running through its offense over the first two periods (nine players scored in the first half for the Colonels) and a lot more active off the boards and going to work off the defensive end to do a better job to contest shots for long stretches during the game.

“I think we came out much more intense than we did [Friday] night,” said James Wood first-season coach Krista Crites, who saw her team hold a 37-19 lead at the half over the Patriots. “I think [the loss to Millbrook] was a little bit of a wake-up call for them and I think they finally realized that they have to come every night to play ball. If they don’t, then what happened [Friday] night is going to happen quite often.”

In their loss to Millbrook, the Colonels allowed just enough space to Lauren Reed and Brenna Cook to get beat by the pair’s hot shooting (a combined 49 points and 7 of 16 shooting from 3-point range) to fall into a double-digit hole that salted the outcome away.

The Patriots did not have as much luck from behind the arc, making just 2 of 19 (11 percent) from long range. And though SVCA did have better success at getting to the rim in the second half, it still ended up with a 28 percent performance (14 of 50) from the field.

The combination of foul issues (three in the first half and four in the game) and a lingering battle with the flu took away any edge the Patriots had inside with 6-foot-2 center Carol Bartholomew, who played roughly 12 minutes and managed just two points and one rebound in the loss. With only three players scoring points in the first half, things were an uphill struggle for SVCA from the get go.

Even so, Patriots coach Lauren Culler felt the way James Wood came out with plenty of energy and purpose made it that much tougher for her squad to catch up.

“They came out on fire and they couldn’t miss a shot for the most part,” said Culler, whose team never led and trailed 20-9 after one period. “And they outhustled us. We were slow. We picked it up [in the second half] but not consistent enough. The team’s still shy playing public schools. We just need to be more consistent and maintain throughout [the game], but playing good teams like James Wood is only going to make us better.”

A basket by Sam Yarnall, who scored 13 of her team-high 16 points in the first half, got SVCA within 4-3 at the 6:22 mark of the first period before the Colonels scored nine straight points to earn their first double-digit lead.

A jumper from Whitney Dick started the surge, Keiana Brooks hit a 3-pointer and followed that basket by coasting in with a steal, and Brooke Nesselrodt hit a jumper for a 13-3 lead with 4:13 left. James Wood continued to push from there, and two baskets by reserve Laura Seymour sent the Colonels into the second period with an 11-point lead.

The Colonels got scoring from six different players in the first period (Brooks led with five), made 9 of 17 shots from the field, and had eight rebounds before the Patriots had their first.

The good play continued on well into the second period, with James Wood twice owning a 21-point lead (the latter off a basket from reserve Grace Greene at the 1:23 mark), holding a plus nine advantage off the glass, and forcing SVCA into 13 first-half turnovers.

“We had a lot better energy this game and we came ready to play,” said Brooks who was a huge spark in the win with her game-highs of 17 points, 11 rebounds, and four steals along with a co- game-high four assists. “We had more focus. We definitely wanted to get back to winning. Defensively, that was definitely one of our best halves. We had stops and rebounding was definitely there.”

With nine players already registering points by the half, Crites had a lot to feel encouraged about.

“We have a lot of balanced scoring,” Crites said. “I mean, that is our strength this year. We don’t have one or two that get 16, 17 points a game. We have three and almost four averaging in double-figures. That’s a plus. We definitely distribute the ball, and rebounding [finishing with a plus 17] was much better tonight than in the past.”

Coming out for the second half, the Patriots did a better job attacking the rim when the Colonels went back to a man defense for a while. A 3-2 zone had helped the Colonels limit SVCA’s drive off the bounce in the first half, but once the Patriots used their quickness more productively, they at least got close to sending their deficit under single digits.

An 8-2 run to start the third period by SVCA cut James Wood’s lead to 39-27 with 4:31 left. Point guard Hannah McCann (all eight of her points came in the second half) opened things up to allow the Patriots to make a few shots and cause the Colonels some concerns.

The Patriots would outscore their hosts 12-10 in the third and go without a turnover (they would have only two total in the second half and get outscored by just one after the break).

“We started trailing [in transition], they started hitting shots, they went with a smaller lineup, and they were outhustling us there for a little bit,” Crites said. “You got to give credit where it’s due, they were outhustling us and they fought for four quarters, and fortunately we decided we’d better fight back. We had a big enough lead and we decided to fight back and finish.”

To their credit, the Colonels did recover starting late in the third when they went back to zone and had a mini-run to put thoughts of a comeback by the Patriots out of reach. Brooks, who had a 3-pointer and scored six points in the period, made a free throw, Sarah Johnson got open off the weak side and converted a nice entry pass from Nesselrodt (four assists), and Dick (eight points, seven rebounds, and three assists) scored off a jumper to get the lead back to a safe margin at 47-31 heading to the fourth.

The Colonels will swing back into Northwestern District action Friday at Skyline. James Wood will look to even up its district mark with the same type of effort they put forth against SVCA. The Colonels already own a win (which does not count in the district standings) last month against Skyline, 50-45, at the Boonsboro (Md.) tournament.

“If we come ready to play like we did tonight, and we’re focused and we get up there and we know what we’re going to do, then definitely, we’ll be ready to play Skyline,” Brooks said.

Seymour added nine points for James Wood, Nesselrodt scored seven, and Johnson had six. Grace Snyder had 11 points and seven rebounds for SVCA.