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Lady Bulldogs fend off L-E threat for 47-37 win

Posted: December 4, 2017 4:33 p.m.
Updated: December 5, 2017 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I

L-E’S JAZMIN FOSTER DRIBBLES while being guarded by Camden’s Amber Hadden in action from Friday night’s game played on Camden’s Michael G. Culp Court.

Frustration comes in different forms for different teams.

For the Camden High girls basketball squad, frustration comes when a taller opponent sits in a zone and forces the Lady Bulldogs to play a more deliberate brand of offense. Lugoff-Elgin did just that on Friday but the Lady Demons had a kryptonite of their own in a thin stripe painted on both ends of the floor.

While CHS struggled to solve L-E’s zone defense, the visiting Lady Demons could not break the spell at the free throw line from which the guests made just seven of 29 attempts which proved their undoing in a 47-37 Camden victory on Friday on the Michael G. Culp Court.

The win was the second in as many outings for Natalie Jeffcoat and company while the defeat dropped L-E to 0-2 heading into tonight’s home game with North Central.

While CHS struggled to a seven-point first quarter while facing the 1-2-2 zone scheme, the Lady Demons’ problems from the charity stripe also started early as the guests missed 10 of 11 freebies in a first eight minutes in which they still managed to come away with a 9-7 lead.

The charity stripe was not the only bugaboo for the visitors said their head coach Von Duncan.

“Free throws hurt us in the beginning but missing easy baskets underneath shot us in the foot,” she said of the double-whammy which plagued her girls. “We just didn’t execute like we should have underneath the basket.”

Camden, the shorter of the two cross-river rivals, came undone at the sight of the zone. The hostesses used a short jumper from the pain from Amber Hadden and a 3-pont jumper from Victoria Brice in the closing minute of the first half to carry a slim 22-20 advantage into the locker room at the break.

The Lady Bulldogs hit some shots which got their full-court press going and were able to extend their lead to 35-26 heading into the final stanza and then, having to hold on for the win.

“We’re not a really good half-court offensive team and it gave us trouble,” Jeffcoat said of the problems created by the L-E zone. “I thought we had some decent looks at the basket but we were having trouble making shots early. I think it may have been from nerves but it definitely was a rough start.

“If you can’t score you can’t press and that was what we were dealing with at the beginning of the game. We rely on our defense to create offense for us.”

CHS, which received a dozen points from senior guard Whitley Kahler, picked up where it left off in the second quarter as senior guard Venus Sumpter opened the second half by scoring off an inbounds pass and then sticking a short jumper to make is 26-20. What was an 8-2 opening salvo from the Lady Bulldogs was only interrupted by L-E’s Caitlyn Simon’s 12-foot jumper which came in front of layins from Camden’s Imani Wyatt and Kiasia Hayes, the latter giving the home side a 30-22 lead with 5:18 to play in the third while also drawing a time out from Duncan.

The Lady Dogs went up by a game-best 10 points when Z’yaja Cook went inside for a basket with 90 ticks left in the third quarter clock. L-E trailed by nine after a Lanique Moore free throw in the closing 10 seconds.

Jeffcoat said after a bumpy start, her team was able to get into a rhythm after the halftime break.

“We talked at halftime and said that we were very fortunate to be in the position we were in because I thought we had a lot of unforced turnovers and we didn’t shoot well,” she said. “We were able to make some shots and add a little pressure in the second half.”

A Hadden layup off a Kahler assist extended the Camden lead to 39-27 with 5:25 left to play. The Lady Demons were not about to fold their tents, yet, however.

Receiving a drive for a pair from Rachel Larsen, the visitors went on a 6-0 run which included a putback and then a steal and layin from Jayla Sullivan, who led all scorers with 14 points. Sullivan, a senior center, then answered a Sumpter 10-foot bank shot with a basket off the feed on the inbounds pass and with 1:40 to play, L-E had trimmed the deficit to 41-35.

 A missed free throw prevented L-E from cutting into the lead. Camden was finally able to give itself a bit more breathing when Wyatt went in on a baseline drive with 1:18 to play to hike the lead to eight points.

Jeffcoat smiled when asked of her team’s still wanting to force the issue on offense while playing with the lead in the closing stages of the contest rather than taking air out of the ball and time from the clock. “That was a little frustrating,” she said. “We had a few inexperienced players out there but I feel like the next time we’re in that situation that we’re going to handle it better.”

Much of the same could be said of Camden’s struggles in facing the L-E zone.

While the Lady Demon defense pitched a shutout for the game’s first three minutes and 20 seconds and did not allow a field goal until Brice drained a 3-point jumper from the corner with 3:15 left, the guests only led 6-0 thanks to a pair of Sullivan stickbacks and a short jumper from Jazmin Foster. But an 0-for-five start from the free throw line prevented L-E from creating additional space between itself and an out of sorts Camden offense.

“The zone has been our ‘go-to’ defense. It has been a positive for us and has knocked team’s out of their natural routine on offense,” Duncan said of a scheme which Camden will probably see when it heads to the Demons Den on Friday. “We executed it pretty well tonight.”

A Foster 10-foot runner gave L-E the early 9-4 edge which was trimmed to 9-7 after the first quarter.

Camden took the lead with a pair of steals and layins from Tiyana Peterson and Sumpter, respectively, to start the second quarter. 

The Lady Demons broke a 13-all standoff with Simon breaking loose for a layin before a Brooke Grant putback made it 17-13. The lead grew to 19-14 after Grant knocked down a pair of free throws at the 2:13 mark of the second quarter.

With a roster which includes just two seniors, a junior, five sophomores and a pair of freshmen, Duncan said the large crowd which showed up for the evening-opening game may have gotten to her young squad, at first, before both sides settled in to their surroundings.

“We were a little tight but they played a little more relaxed than I thought we would,” she said of the trappings which come with this rivalry affair. “It’s always a big game with all the excitement and, sometimes the crowd can get in their heads but I think they handled themselves pretty well tonight.”

Led by Sullivan, L-E’s improving interior players created problems inside for the Camden defense.  That, Jeffcoat said, is something which will be addressed in practice.

“I thought they rebounded well and were aggressive. We have to do a better job defensively of staying between the man and the ball and denying those passes inside,” she said.

Duncan said things are clicking for not only her post players but for an entire team which has taken on a different persona this season.

“We’re young,” she said while going down her roster. “We don’t want to jump into the future but the consistency is there. That’s something that we’ve lacked in our program. We’ve always had seniors and then, we had to re-teach the whole system to the new girls. 

“Consistency is something that we’ve been lacking and now, consistency is what we have. They’re learning that the game is bigger than them and they are playing for their sisters in sweat.”

 

L-E (37): Brooke Grant 2 3-11 7, Jayla Sullivan 7 0-2 14, Jazmin Foster 3 1-4 7, Gabby Powers 0 0-2 0, Caitlyn Simon 1 0-0 2, Rachel Larsen 2 2-6 6, Emma Branham 0 0-2 0, Lanique Moore 0 1-2 1. Totals: 14 7-29 37

CHS (47): Kiasia Hayes 1 1-2 3, Victoria Brice 2 0-0 6, Imani Wyatt 3 0-1 6, Amber Hadden 2 2-4 6, Tiyana Peterson 2 0-0 4, Venus Sumpter 4 0-0 8, Whitley Kahler 3 5-5 12, Z’yaja Cook 1 0-0 2. Totals: 18 8-10 47

 

Score by quarters: First: L-E, 9-7; Halftime: CHS, 22-20; Third: CHS, 35-26; Three-point goals: L-E none, CHS 3 (Brice 2, Kahler)

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