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Slow start dooms CHS girls in 37-29 loss

Posted: February 11, 2014 11:46 a.m.
Updated: February 12, 2014 5:00 a.m.

Stepping back inside after getting some fresh air outside the Camden High gym, Natalie Jeffcoat probably wished her team could have done the same earlier Monday evening.
The Lady Bulldogs put up just five first half points only to battle back and close the gap to six points in the final minute and a half of Monday’s 37-29 loss to visiting Chapin on the Michael G. Culp Court. The setback eliminated Camden from the post-season after the hostesses dropped to 4-7 in Region 4-AAA play heading into Friday’s home finale with second-ranked Lower Richland.
“It’s almost like the basket had a lid on it,” Jeffcoat said of her team’s making just two shots from the field in the first half of a ‘must win’ game. “I think we just wanted it too much and we were short-arming some shots because we had a lot of good looks at it.”
As tough as things were for Camden, the visiting Eagles were not exactly lighting things up as they received all six of their first quarter points from ShaLeighya Sulton --- who led all scorers with 17 points --- as Chapin led, 6-2, after the first eight minutes.
Camden’s chances took a blow in the game’s opening two and a half minutes when senior center Nikki Lee was called for her third personal foul and was sent to the bench for the remainder of the first half. Lee’s absence took away Camden’s biggest inside presence.
“I thought Nikki played her heart out. She played as hard as she could possibly play,” Jeffcoat said. “I thought she got some tough calls against her. It hurt that she had to sit a majority of the first half. That definitely hurt us because she was aggressive on the boards.”
Sulton added five more points in the second quarter, equaling that which Camden scored in the entire first 16 minutes of play, as the Eagles carried an 18-5 lead into the locker room at halftime. In spite of its problems from the floor, Camden was still not out of this one after an entirely forgettable first two quarters of play.
Chapin used a 6-2 run to start the second half while opening a 24-7 lead. Camden started chipping away when senior guard Sharneece Gary bottomed out a 3-point shot at the four-minute mark. Junior Brooke Dixon added two free throws before Lee went inside for a pair as the Lady Bulldogs trimmed the deficit to 26-14 with less than two minutes to go in the third quarter. But Chapin used buckets from Olivia Chapman and Sulton down the stretch as its lead stood at 30-15 heading into the final stanza.
Chapin had a solid defensive game plan for Camden as the Eagles run a triangle and two, marking Gary and Dixon with one-on-one pressure defense. Gary finished with 12 points while Dixon added five. All but two of those 17 points came after intermission.
“We’ve worked against it,” Jeffcoat said of the triangle and two scheme. “We needed somebody else to be able to put the ball in the basket for us. I thought we got a lot of good looks, but we couldn’t make the shots. It’s hard to get into a flow when you don’t score. It’s also hard to play defense because you don’t get any energy.”
Getting a Gary trey and 10-footer and a Dixon free throw, Camden knocked the lead down to 30-21 in the opening two minutes of the fourth quarter. The Lady Bulldogs could have chipped even further into the lead, but missed the mark on 14 of 24 free throws on the night.
Foul shooting woes aside, Camden used a pair of freebies from Gary and a Kentrell Salmond putback following a missed free throw to cut the lead down to 33-26 with 2:42 to play. Getting a Treana Perry foul shot and two more from Dixon, the hostesses kept the deficit at sis, 35-29, with 1:22 to play. But the Lady Bulldogs could not make this a one possession game as Chapin made two of five free throws in the closing 67 seconds to keep the Lady Bulldogs at bay.
Jeffcoat said her team simply left themselves with too much work to do after a miserable start.
“We got down too far to be able to come back,” she said after her team’s 14-point fourth quarter rally. “When we made baskets, we played with more energy and more intensity. We were more aggressive and playing with more confidence.”

Chapin (37): ShaLeighya Sulton5 6-14 17, Sarah Jenkins 1 0-3 3, Kenzie Currie 1 0-0 2, Hannah Davis 0 3-4 3, Olivia Chapman 4 0-1 8, Makenzye Whitman 1 0-0 2m Samantha Kerr 1 0-1 2, Madyson White 0 0-1 0 Totals: 13 9-24 37
Camden (29): Nikki Lee 2 1-4 5, Ariyan Massey 0 0-2 0, Quasha Jefferson 0 0-2 0, Treana Perry 0 3-6 3, Sharneece Gary 4 2-2 12, Kentrell Salmond 2 0-0 4, Brooke Dixon 0 5-6 5, Dayajoi Belton 0 0-2 0 Totals: 8 10-24 29
Score by quarters: First: Chapin, 6-2; Halftime: Chapin, 18-5; Third: Chapin, 30-15; Three-point goals: Chapin 1 (Jenkins), Camden 2 (Gary 2)

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