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Lady Dogs’ depth wears down NC

Camden rolls to 71-34 victory

Posted: November 30, 2017 12:04 p.m.
Updated: December 1, 2017 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I

CAMDEN’S TIYANA PETERSON SURVEYS the situation from her point guard post in Wednesday’s game with North Central. The sophomore scored 16 points in the Lady Bulldogs’ victory.

At the mere mention of the word depth, a sparkle came from Natalie Jeffcoat’s eyes. Better yet, for the Camden High girls’ basketball coach, it was not just numbers but quality.

Following several seasons in which their bench was razor thin at times, the Lady Bulldogs can now give their coach several options when the starters get into foul trouble or, simply need a breather.

Wednesday night, both parts came together as the CHS starters scored 43 points while the bench added 28 in a season-opening 71-34 win over visiting North Central. The game was the season opener for both in-county rivals.

On an evening in which the hostesses placed nine of the 11 players dressed out in the scoring column, freshman Imani Wyatt, a transfer from Hawaii, came off the bench to lead Camden with 17 points. Sophomore starting point guard Tiyana Peterson added 16 as Camden blew open a close 15-11 first quarter game with a 44-15 run in the middle two stanzas and carried a commanding 59-26 advantage into the final eight minutes of play.

Jeffcoat said there is a difference between just having numbers and having players who do not allow a team to skip a beat when they are called to relieve a starter.

“Quality depth,” said the former CHS and University of South Carolina standout. “I was telling our girls that North Central really has some good basketball players but I told them that I thought we had more good players.

“We wanted to keep the pressure on them and try and run fresh bodies in and out of the game and play fast. We don’t have a whole lot of (great) shooters but we have some aggressive and athletic kids on this team.”

The loss spoiled the debut of David Dawson on the Lady Knights’ bench. Dawson took over this season for longtime NC head coach Mitch Lowder.

As he was walking toward his team’s locker room at the conclusion of the night, Dawson said his troops had a lot going against them for their first time out. He said many of the Lady Knights’ problems were of their own doing rather than Camden’s wearing his girls down as the game went along.

“I think it was more that we didn’t sprint and hustle like we’ve been practicing,” he said as to his team’s downfall on the Michael G. Culp Court. “My girls were a little nervous and I have a couple girls who are out sick right now; we were missing about three players who had the flu and stuff like that.

“We came out a little short-handed today and that definitely played a little part in it. That happens. It’s like I told my girls, losing sometimes is part of becoming successful. You have to experience a loss in order to really enjoy success and work for it.”

The Lady Knights did have their two leading returning scorers from a season ago on the floor. Sophomore guard Peyton Holley led the visitors with 14 points. Camden was able to slow down junior guard Kali Tomlin, NC’s top scorer each of the past two years, and held her to six points.

Jeffcoat said she wanted her defenders to be aware as to where the pair were on the court the entire game.

“We were super-concerned,” Jeffcoat said of Tomlin and Holley’s potential impact. “In practice, we said that whoever was responsible for guarding them were not to help anybody else on defense and not to give either of them any daylight. If they did get a shot off, we wanted to make sure that they worked really hard to have open looks.”

Camden started laying the groundwork for its runaway win late in the first quarter. A Whitley Kahler stickback and a buzzer-beating Venus Sumpter layin, coming off a pretty feed from Kahler, broke an 11-all standoff in the final 28 seconds of the opening stanza.

The Lady Bulldogs continued to have the momentum in opening the second quarter on a 12-2 run. The five-minute surge was triggered by Peterson, who scored her team’s first six points while junior guard Z’yaja Cook added four toward a run which was only interrupted by a short jumper from NC junior center Amarhi Boykin, which made it a 17-13 contest with 5:30 left to play before halftime.

Camden was able to stretch its lead to 36-20 at the break after Holley scored three points while a Tomlin free throw cut the deficit to 33-20 with 13 ticks left in the second quarter clock. That was enough time for the Lady Bulldogs to get a Sumpter free throw and a five-foot bank shot from Wyatt, which came at the buzzer following Sumpter’s steal and assist.

Using a pressure defense which created turnovers, CHS was able to get good looks at the basket thanks to unselfish play and finding open teammates close to the rim. The hostesses did not settle for 3-point shots as they only hit from distance one time; that being a 3-ball from Amber Hadden in the first quarter.

“I thought we did a great job of finding the open man and keeping our head up,” Jeffcoat said of her offense. “We missed an awful lot of shots early and I told them that if we would just stay with it, those shots were going to start falling because we were giving ourselves some really good opportunities.”

Like they did in the second quarter, the Lady Bulldogs used a torrid run to open the second half. What turned out to be a 17-2 spree was triggered by full-court pressure which led to a pair of Sumpter layins in the opening minute of the third quarter.

The run included both Sumpter and Peterson tossing in six points as the advantage mushroomed to 53-22 and stood at a commanding 59-26 after Hadden rolled a pair of layups through the iron in the closing 43 seconds of the third stanza.

Jeffcoat started clearing her bench in the third quarter and the offense and defense never missed a beat.

“We really don’t especially after the last few years,” she said of her backups. “We have competition in practice which is so good for us. We have people pushing each other for playing time. At the same time, I have such a good group of kids; they’re very coachable and they are there for each other. It’s been a nice start, so far.”

As for the Lady Knights, who will not return to the court until they travel to Lugoff-Elgin next Tuesday, Dawson said he hopes to have his entire roster at his disposal. He also said having one game under his team’s collective belt should help settle some nerves as the players and their new head coach continue to get used to a new system.

“We have a lot of work to do but that is one of the things that I’m looking forward to,” he said. “I’m always looking for a challenge and I’m ready to embrace it and to take this program to new heights.

“This is a stepping stone for me and my program. We didn’t quite get the outcome we were hoping for tonight but I’m excited. I’m excited about what we’re doing here at North Central.”

 

NC (34): Peyton Holley 5 4-5 14, Madison Dixon 1 2-2 4, Amarhi Boykin 5 0-0 10, Kali Tomlin 2 2-4 6. Totals: 13 8-11 34

CHS (71): Tiyana Peterson 8 0-0 16, Whitley Kahler 4 1-2 9, Imani Wyatt 8 1-2 17, Amber Hadden 4 0-0 9, Kiasia Hayes 0 0-2 0, Z’yaja Cook 2 0-0 4, Victoria Brice 2 1-1 5, Venus Sumpter 4 1-2 9, Shytianna Green 1 0-0 2. Totals: 33 4-9 71

 

Score by quarters: First: CHS, 15-11; Halftime: CHS, 36-20; Third: CHS, 59-26; Three-point goals: NC (none), CHS (Hadden)

 

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