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Lady Bulldogs’ playoff path looks to be filled with bus trips, travel
Turnovers plague CHS girls in 43-34 loss to Lady Griffins
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CAMDEN’S IMANI WYATT FINDS her path and vision blocked by Fairfield Central’s La’Keyn Boyd (5) in Tuesday’s game. - photo by Photo by Tom Didato

Five trips down the floor with five turnovers started the game for the Camden girls. Things did not get much better after that.

On a night in which the Lady Bulldogs needed a win by four or more points in order to keep their hopes for a second-place finish in Region 4-AAA --- and the first round playoff home game which comes with it --- alive, Camden missed the mark on both counts. Barring something unforeseen happening over the course of the next three games, CHS will be on the road for, at least, its first round state tournament contest.

Bogged down by  more than 25 turnovers and a bevy of empty offensive possessions, Natalie Jeffcoat’s squad fell to 2-3 in conference play and 14-6 overall with a 43-34 loss to visiting Fairfield Central on Tuesday on the Michael G. Culp Court.

The Lady Griffins improved to 4-1 in league play and own a pair of wins over Camden. The first was a three-point victory in which the Lady Bulldogs squandered a 17-point third quarter advantage. This time, Camden’s longest lead was 12-8 in the opening 20 seconds of the second quarter.

Trailing her team from the court to their locker room after the setback, Jeffcoat was at a loss for words. And the ones she said were measured and softly spoken. The turnovers were a sore spot for the former Camden and University of South Carolina standout guard.

“That’s really disappointing,” she said. “I thought that we would have taken care of the ball better than that.”

On a night of few bright spots for the hostesses, one was the play of forward Joyce Edwards. The seventh-grader, who missed practice time due to illness recently, came off the bench to lead Camden with 16 points to go along with 14 rebounds. Senior point guard Tiyana Peterson was next with 12 points as the duo accounted for all but six of Camden’s points.

As poorly as Camden played on offense, the Lady Bulldogs were still within striking distance in the final three and a half minutes of this contest.

Trailing 36-27, Edwards put back a missed shot with 3:26 left in the game. Imani Wyatt followed as she got ahead on the break following an FC turnover and went in for a layup which cut the visitors’ lead to 36-31 with 2:49 left as Lady Griffins’ head coach Amelia Miller called a time out.

The guests came out from Miller’s talk and scored the next six points, starting with a La’Keyn Boyd reverse layin at the 2:42 marker and ending with point guard Madisen Belton transforming another CHS turnover into a layin and a 42-31 lead with 21 ticks left in the game clock to put this one in the books.

A look at the final statistics provided a capsule version of how things went on the floor. The Lady Griffins spread out their scoring led by 18 from Boyd. They were also more active, especially inside, as they went to the free throw line 27 times while converting 13. Camden, on the other hand, knocked down three of its eight tries from the stripe.

“They really were,” Jeffcoat said as to FC’s beating her team under the glass and getting to loose balls. “I really don’t know what to say … I’m so disappointed. 

“For us to be able to win, that has to be us coming up with the loose ball and coming up with the rebounds. Tonight, we just didn’t do it.”

The Lady Griffins were unable to make hay out of Camden’s early rash of turnovers as the guests led, 5-2, after more than five and a half minutes of play. A half-court Edwards drive and a Peterson layin returned the lead to Camden at 6-5. A second 3-point jumper from Jamaria Sampson gave FC the lead, again, at 8-5 with 1:55 to go in the opening stanza.

Camden closed the first quarter with a run-out bucket from Peterson followed by a quarter-ending putback from teammate Nyla Jackson to give the Lady Bulldogs a 10-8 lead after the first eight minutes. An Edwards stickback opened the second quarter and hiked the advantage to 12-8 just 20 seconds into the second quarter.

Edwards was Camden’s offense in the second quarter as she scored all seven of the Lady Bulldogs’ points in the eight-minute stretch. She was no match, however, for the 15 points scored by the guests with Boyd having five of those in a 9-0 run which returned the lead to FC at 17-12. An Edwards putback and then her going in for a layup closed the gap to 17-16 with 4:40 remaining to play before halftime.

A pair of Boyd putbacks triggered a half-closing 6-1 FC surge as the Lady Griffins carried a 23-17 lead into the locker room at intermission.

CHS opened the second half in a full-court press to try and take the Lady Griffins out of their comfort zone. A Boyd basket was followed by one each from Peterson and Edwards as Camden drew to within 25-21. FC was able to utilize the size of six-foot center Cristin Gray inside for a basket and a free throw to go up, 30-22, in a third quarter which ended with Camden trailing, 30-24 thanks to a short jumper from Edwards in the final 25 seconds.

The pick-me-up which FC needed came in scoring the first six points of the final stanza, starting with a Gray stickback, as the lead swelled to 36-24. A conventional 3-point play from Peterson chopped the deficit to 36-27 with 5:06 left before back-to-back baskets from Edwards and Wyatt made it 36-31 with 2:29 left to play.

While the press disrupted FC’s offense, Camden was unable to regain the lead as many a shot lipped out or circled the rim but would not drop.

“I thought we had a lot of good looks at the basket but, we just could not finish,” Jeffcoat said. “We fouled them too often and did not leave our feet the way we needed to on defense. It was not a good effort tonight, it really wasn’t.”

 FC (43): Jamaria Sampson 2 0-2 6, Zariah Rice 0 8-11 8, La’Keyn Boyd 7 4-8 18, Alyssa Boyd 1 0-0 2, Madisen Belton 2 0-0 4, Cristin Gray 2 1-6 43. Totals: 14 13-27 43

CHS (33): J’Teanna Lee 1 0-0 2, Joyce Edwards 7 2-6 16, Tiyana Peterson 5 1-2 12, Nyla Jackson 1 0-0 2, Imani Wyatt 1 0-0 2. Totals: 15 3-8 33

Score by quarters: First: CHS, 10-8; Halftime: FC, 23-17; Third: FC, 30-24; Three-point goals: FC 2 (Sampson 2), CHS 1 (Peterson)