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CHS girls tame Cyclones, 53-21

Posted: February 5, 2018 3:46 p.m.
Updated: February 6, 2018 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I

CAMDEN’S IMANI WYATT DEFENDS the inbounds pass in Friday’s win over visiting Chester. Wyatt, a freshman, led the Lady Bulldogs in scoring with 16 points.

You work and work and then, work some more with little to show for your efforts.

Natalie Jeffcoat feels your pain.

Jeffcoat, the girls’ basketball coach at Camden High, watched as her team outplayed, outhustled and outscrapped visiting Chester throughout the first half of Friday’s Region 4-AAA contest played on the Michael G. Culp Court only to see her Lady Bulldogs carry a 16-8 lead into halftime. A break here or there or, a kinder, gentler rim, and this one well could have been a blowout in the home team’s favor.

That would come in the second 16 minutes which opened with the hostesses embarking on a 21-0 run to open the third quarter. That spree translated into a 53-21 Camden romp which added more bite to its postseason stock.

The victory gave the Lady Bulldogs a 3-3 mark in conference play with two league games remaining starting tonight with a visit to meet winless Indian Land before closing the regular season at home against Columbia High on Thursday in a pairing which may well decide second place and a first round home state playoff game on Monday, Feb. 12.

Laughing before the question being posed to her was even finished, Jeffcoat said it was a strange first half in that Chester was still within striking distance after having made just three baskets from the field in the first two quarters.

“It kind of felt like we had control of the game,” she said, “but the scoreboard definitely did not reflect that. We just couldn’t score. It seemed like we had a lot of really good looks but we just couldn’t put the ball in the basket.”

While making baskets was a hard commodity for Camden, especially in the first half, it did not seem so hard for Imani Wyatt. The freshman transfer from Hawaii led all scorers with 16 points with half of those coming in the third quarter rally which put this one away. 

Not only was Wyatt a force on the offensive end but she also helped disrupt the Lady Cyclones’ offensive game plan.

“I thought Imani Wyatt did a good job tonight,” Jeffcoat said. “She got her hands on a lot of passes. She played really hard tonight.”

Camden’s effort on the defensive end, which included extending its pressure to all parts of the floor, led to steals and first quarter layins from Wyatt and senior court Whitley Kahler to help the hostesses break out to a 10-1 lead less than six minutes into the game.

Wyatt had a pair of layups and Kahler another, all coming as the result of Camden steals, to help the Lady Bulldogs build a 16-8 halftime lead.

Jeffcoat later said applying pressure on Chester became an even larger part of her team’s strategy due to the Lady Cyclones’ missing one of their starting guards and best players.

“I think they were missing a player who, I think, scored maybe 15 or 16 points against us. She wasn’t here tonight,” Jeffcoat said in referencing Camden’s win at Chester in January. “We really talked about what we needed to do against her tonight.

“We didn’t think they had any really strong ballhandlers tonight so, we really wanted to force the issues defensively.”

The aforementioned 21-0 surge started with Wyatt going inside for an easy pair in the first eight seconds of play. A steal and a layin from sophomore point guard Tiyana Peterson followed before Venus Sumpter took a feed off an inbounds pass, laid it home and in the first 55 seconds of the third quarter, the Lady Bulldogs were off and running with a 22-8 advantage.

Camden’s offensive problems ended when it returned to the court to begin the second half and after some directions from Jeffcoat and assistant coach Cassandra Summers urging their girls to play under control on the offensive end of the floor.

“Offensively, you can’t play as frenetically as you do on defense,” Jeffcoat said of her halftime talk. “When it’s time to shoot the ball, you have to slow down just a tad. We seemed like we were able to make some shots. It’s such a momentum thing; you get a couple shots to drop and, all of sudden, the confidence starts to grow and the basket is not so small anymore.”

Putbacks from Wyatt and Sumpter added to the lead. Peterson’s completing a traditional 3-point play at the 3:02 mark of the third ballooned the lead to 37-8. Camden would carry a commanding 40-12 lead into a final quarter which was completed by Jeffcoat’s bench.

While taking the pressure off in the third quarter, Jeffcoat was more than happy with what she saw of her team’s ball-hawking defense and attacking the boards as Camden had seven second-chance baskets on a night in which they played at the pace they need in order to be successful.

“We talked about being real aggressive defensively; getting into the passing lanes and gambling a little bit and being able to recover and keep playing hard,” Jeffcoat said. 

“When we’re able to play fast, like we did tonight, is always when we’ve been most effective. We’ve never been a good half-court, set-it-up type of a team. It’s nice when we can get out and pressure people and turn defense into offense.”

Chester (21): Kadisah Woods 2 2-5 6, Monique Griffin 1 0-0 2, Jenea Dunham 1 0-0 2, Deanna Lowry 2 0-0 4, Chantel Alexander 0 1-4 1, Shecona Minter 1 0-0 3, Imani Kirkpatrick 1 0-0 3. Totals: 8 3-9 21

Camden (53): Imani Wyatt 8 0-0 16, Venus Sumpter 4 0-2 8, Whitley Kahler 3 2-4 8, Kenra White 0 4-8 4, Tiyana Peterson 4 1-1 9, Amber Hadden1 0-0 2, Kiasia Hayes 1 1-1 3, ZyAja Cook 0 3-4 3. Totals: 21 11-20 53

Score by quarters: First: Camden, 10-5; Halftime: Camden, 16-8; Third: Camden, 40-12; Three-point goals: Chester 2 (Minter, Kirkpatrick), Camden none

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