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Second half surge key for Lady Bulldogs

Camden pulls away from NC for 67-50 non-conference win

Posted: January 26, 2017 10:01 a.m.
Updated: January 27, 2017 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I

CAMDEN’S VICTORIA BRICE SEARCHES for an open teammate after having come away with a rebound in Monday’s win over North Central. Applying defensive pressure is the Lady Knights’ Assata Kirkley.

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Following a first half in which the two sides combined to score 62 points with Camden leading visiting North Central, 32-30, NC head coach Mitch Lowder left the locker room at halftime thinking defense.

The veteran Lady Knights’ boss said that following a first 16 minutes in which defense was merely a passing fancy, one team would have to clamp down on the other end of the court. Sadly for Lowder and company, that team was the Lady Bulldogs who used a 16-8 third quarter run to help them come away with a 67-50 victory on the Michael G. Culp Court.

The win gave CHS (7-5) a sweep of its in-country rivals in Monday’s non-region game played inside the Dog Pound.

NC (4-10) was within two points of the hostesses following a pair of Kali Tomlin free throws which made it 36-34 with 5:51 to play in the third quarter. Camden, though, would respond with a 12-0 run fueled in part by seven points from senior Chelsea Reed to give the Lady Bulldogs a 48-34 lead which stood at 48-38 heading into the fourth quarter.

“I thought we were scoring well but I felt it was going to come down to whichever team played the better defense in the third quarter,” Lowder said of his impressions of the first half. “They played a little better defense than we did in the third quarter.

“I know we got a little tired and that’s no excuse. We rebounded well, to that point in the game. They got some fast breaks and they got good position on us. We just have to get a little tougher to get rebounds.”

The breakneck pace of play in the first half played into both team’s hands. Camden head coach Natalie Jeffcoat said this is the style of play which best suits her girls’ style.

“We definitely want to run any time that we can,” she said. “We have a hard time having to set up anything and scoring. We’re so much better in the transition game. We like to run any chance that we get.”

Camden was afforded that opportunity in a first half in which senior point guard Janai Crim exploded for 16 of her game-best 26 points with 10 of those coming in the second quarter.

Getting a pair of layins from Crim along with two putbacks from Venus Sumpter --- who added 17 points --- and a 3-point jumper from Chloe Grein, Camden closed the first quarter on an 11-0 run to take a 14-6 lead.

Not to be outdone, NC looked to its top two scorers, sophomore Kali Tomlin and freshman Peyton Holley to grab the lead midway through a wild second quarter.

The Lady Knights used seven points from Holley, whose 24 led the guests, and six from Tomlin in a 15-2 rally which gave them a 21-16 lead with 4:37 to go before the break. Camden answered with four points each from Crim and Sumpter to regain the edge at 24-23 following a Sumpter basket from point-blank range.

Next, it was Tomlin and Holley’s turn as Holley had four points and Holley three, including a steal and a layin with 65 ticks left in the first half clock to give the Lady Knights their final lead of the game at 30-29. Camden would take a 32-30 advantage into the break thanks to a Crim 3-ball from the left corner with 40 seconds left in the half.

The opening two quarters were as much of a two-on-two battle as a regulation game. Camden received 27 points from the combo of Crim (16 points) and Sumpter (11). NC countered with its 1-2 punch of Holley --- who scored 13 of her 15 first-half points in the second quarter --- and Tomlin, whose 13 points gave Lowder and company 27 points as the two top scorers from both sides played to a standoff.

When the Lady Knights took the floor to open the second half, Lowder gave the Camden and Crim a different defensive look as defensive specialist Jessica Rutherford was given the task of guarding Crim while her four teammates set up in a zone scheme.

The result was mixed as Crim was held to two points in the third quarter as she changed roles from scorer to facilitator on offense.

“We decided to go with a 1-3 chaser against (Crim.) That helped us out a bit but their other girls got free inside. We didn’t play that well,” Lowder admitted.

With so much of the first half offense coming from fast-break layups or jump shots, Camden was able to exploit the paint against the smaller Lady Knights in the second half. Reed, a senior, came off the bench to score two baskets and add three free throws in the game-changing third quarter run. Reed’s first basket raised the lead to 43-34 and gave her own confidence a shot in the arm.

“I thought Chelsea Reed really gave us a bump coming in, being aggressive on the boards and making some shots as well as making some nice passes from the high post,” Jeffcoat said. “Chelsea got that basket and you could see that confidence from her; her whole demeanor changed.

“Hopefully, she will carry that forward from here on out. We need that, so desperately, for somebody to score besides Janai.”

Not only was Camden getting production from more than one or two players but the Lady Bulldogs also followed a similar script to that which they used in topping the Lady Knights in Boonetown earlier this season. Winning the physical battle, Jeffcoat said, was important to how this game would play out for her troops.

“When we played them at North Central, I thought that was one of the keys to our win and, getting second shots,” she said of being the more aggressive team. “There are not many nights where we out-rebound people but we felt that if we hit the boards hard tonight it would give us a chance.”

The Lady Knights would chop the double-digit deficit to 50-43 when a Holley trey was followed by Amorhi Boykin picking up a loose ball near the basket and laying it home with 6:23 left in the game. Crim, however, would scored four points and add an assist while laying on her back for an easy Tiyara Peterson layin as Camden built its lead to 58-45 with less than four minutes to play.

While Rutherford’s job on defense was to stop Camden’s leading scorer from getting clean looks at the basket, it helped with another facet of Crim’s game as she found the open player while adding to her assist total. 

On Monday night, Crim’s passes were not in vain.

“Janai does a good job of creating (scoring chances) for people,” Jeffcoat said. “She’s a great passer and we were able to finish tonight. There have been games where she has thrown those same passes and we didn’t put them in the basket. We were able to do that tonight.”

Once again, Lowder said neither he or his team were happy with the final outcome but he has never failed to praise his players for leaving it all on the court.

“I love our effort. We got after it and we played hard,” he said. “I hope that’s going to pay off for us.”


NC (50): Peyton Holley 11 1-3 24, Kali Tomlin 4 9-11 17, Assata Kirkley 0 1-2 1, Madison Dixon 1 0-0 2, Amorhi Boykin 2 0-2 4, Ciaria Kirkley 1 0-0 2. Totals: 19 11-8 50

CHS (67): Janai Crim 11 1-2 26, Venus Sumpter 8 1-2 17, Chloe Grein 2 0-0 6, Kasia Hayes 1 0-0 2, Chelsea Reed 3 3-6 9, Tiyara Peterson 2 1-2 5, Kate Jones 1 0-0 2. Totals: 28 6-12 67

Score by quarters: First: CHS, 14-6; Halftime: CHS, 23-30; Third: CHS, 48-38; Three-point goals: NC 1 (Holley), CHS 5 (Crim 3, Grein 2)


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