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Lady Bulldogs throttle Gators in 6-AAA opener
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CAMDEN’S MORGAN CHAMPION DRIBBLES to the basket while being chased by a Lakewood defender in Friday’s Region 6-AAA opener in Camden. (Tom Didato/C-I)
Following what is becoming a familiar script when facing in-state, public school squads, the Camden girls’ basketball team jumped to a 48-3 first half lead and breezed to an 80-14 win over visiting Lakewood in the Region 6-AAA opener for both sides. The victory was the fourth straight for the Lady Bulldogs (8-6) whose scheduled game at Manning tonight has been postponed due to COVID-19 issues with the Lady Monarchs girls’ basketball program. Once again, part of this game was shortened with the fourth quarter being played with a running clock after the hostesses carried a commanding 66-8 cushion entering the final stanza. In spite of the lopsided score, CHS head coach Natalie Norris burned a time out in the opening minute of the second half after the Lady Gators threw a press at Camden. Seeing how her girls attacked it was not to their head coach’s liking and Norris quickly called a team meeting to get her squad on the same page. “We didn’t want to get sloppy,” Norris said of the cause for the time out. “We came out very focused and ready to play. We just wanted to make sure that we didn’t lose any of that momentum going forward against that press.” Camden’s backline duo of sophomore forward Joyce Edwards and junior center Tateyoina Harris led the way for the winners with 26 and 14 points, respectively. Nine different Lady Bulldogs found their way into the scoring column on an evening in which they spread the wealth while looking for open teammates. Norris said one of the traits of this team is its unselfish play. “We look for each other,” Norris said with a smile when asked about her team’s offense. “I can’t wait to go back and look to see how many assists we had tonight because it seemed like, more often than not, our baskets came on assists. Anytime you are moving the ball like that, everybody is involved and locked in. It seems to make everybody play harder, too.” Camden scored enough points to win the game less than five minutes into play when Edwards went inside for an easy basket to give her team a 16-3 lead. The Lady Gators scored break a 10-0 CHS run to start the game when Trinity Smalls stuck a 3-point jumper at the 6:32 mark of the first quarter. The Lady Bulldogs hardly left the paint area to do their damage with only a long jumper and a trey from sophomore guard Deanna Jeffcoat finding the mark from more than 10 feet from the basket. All 10 of Edwards’ first quarter points came from short or, point-blank range while Harris went inside for all three of her first quarter baskets from the field as the home side carried a 31-3 lead into the second quarter. The second quarter started with Edwards eight of Camden’s first 11 points with a 3-ball from freshman guard Morgan Champion interrupting Edwards’ run. Layins from ZyCariah Ellerbe and a steal and layup from seventh-grader Braylin Mungo hiked the lead to 48-3 before Lakewood’s Steyve Sinkler hit a 17-foot rainbow to snap a 30-0 CHS run as the Lady Bulldogs carried a 50-5 advantage into the locker room at intermission. After being outscored, 16-3, in the third quarter, the Lady Gators had their first and only run of the night as Sinkler and Zakiya Hodge each found the mark on jumpers from beyond the arc as the visitors had a 6-0 run to trim the deficit to 69-14 with 5:38 left in a contest in which Camden scored the final 11 points. While opening the conference season with a lopsided win and extending their win streak to a season-best four straight, Norris said there is still room for improvement for her girls who are scheduled to meet defending AAA state champion Keenan on Saturday in a 6:30 p.m. start at Eau Claire High School as the finale of an all-day Martin Luther King weekend event. “We had a lot of injuries early on and I think that we’re finally starting to hit our stride,” Norris said of her team’s play. “We’ve said all along that we wanted to be playing our best in February and not worrying so much about November and December. “I think we’re getting there, but we can still really improve a lot. Defensively, we had some lapses tonight and Lakewood was not able to knock down some of the open looks that they had. There’s still a lot for us to clean up.” LHS (14): Trinity Smalls 1 0-0 3, Steyve Sinkler 2 0-0 5, Zakiya Hodge 2 1-6 5. Totals: 5 1-6 14 CHS (80): Joyce Edwards 12 2-3 26, Tateyoina Harris 6 2-2 14, Zyasia Carter 3 0-0 6, Deanna Jeffcoat 3 2-2 9. Braylin Mungo 4 0-0 8, Morgan Champion 3 1-2 8, ZyCariah Ellerbe 2 0-0 4, Jayden Kennedy 1 1-2 3, Kailianna Jackson 1 0-0 2. Totals: 35 8-11 80 Score by quarters: First: CHS, 31-3; Halftime: CHS, 50-5; Third: CHS, 66-8; Three-point goals: LHS 2 (Smalls, Sinkler); CHS 2 (Champion, Jeffcoat)