Rather than staying in their locker room for halftime, the Richland Northeast girls made a U-turn, came back through the Camden High gym and regathered in the school’s commons area.
Somewhere along the way, the visiting Lady Cavaliers found their shooting touch and turned a 28-13 halftime deficit into a 60-53 win over Camden in Friday’s Region 4-AAA contest played on the Michael G. Culp Court.
After a first half in she was held scoreless, RNE guard Sydney Reed erupted for a game-best 20 second half points with 12 of those coming from beyond the 3-point arc. Her backcourt partner, point guard Maleisha Taylor, struck for 14 of her 17 points in the final two quarters as she, too, found the mark on four shots from distance.
RNE’s comeback came after as solid a half of basketball as Natalie Jeffcoat’s charges, (4-9, 0-4 in 4-AAA) had played all season as the Lady Bulldogs carried a 15-point lead into intermission. That fact made this setback even tougher to swallow.
"That was probably the best that we’ve looked in terms of moving the ball around and looking for each other all year. That was really encouraging," Jeffcoat said. "We just have to figure out a way to put 32 good minutes together. We’ve had some good halves, here and there, but we have yet to put together 32 good minutes of basketball."
"I am really disappointed for them because I thought our girls really played hard tonight."
After a first half in which it made just five baskets from the field, RNE (2-2 in 4-AAA) came out smoking from long range after the break. A pair of consecutive treys from Taylor, two stickbacks courtesy of Daisha Jackson and a Reed 3-ball in the first four minutes of the second half helped the guests chop 10 points off the CHS lead to make it a 33-28 ballgame.
A pair of free throws from Treana Perry interrupted the Lady Cavs’ surge. But then, the visitors went 3-for-3 from 3-land with a Taylor bucket being followed by two in a row from Reed as RNE took the lead for the first time, at 37-35, with 1:18 to play in the third quarter.
Camden, which knocked down eight treys received one from Ariyan Massey with 36 seconds to play in the third before an Audria Brooks free throw put CHS on top, 39-37, in a third quarter which ended in a 39-all stalemate after RNE clicked on two of four free throws in the closing 1.6 seconds of the stanza.
As cold as the Lady Cavaliers were in the first 16 minutes, they were hot to open the third quarter in grabbing the momentum by the throat.
"The first couple minutes of a game and the first couple minutes coming out after halftime always seems to set the tone," Jeffcoat said. "They set the tone in the second half whereas we set the tone in the first half."
Using a jumper from Massey and making three of seven free throws, Camden regained the lead at 44-39 with a little more than five minutes to play in the contest. In just more than a minute, though, that lead vanished thanks to a Taylor trey and a Reed 10-foot stop-and-pop jumper off the break at the 4:03 marker.
Jania Crim returned the lead to the hostesses when she banked in a reverse with her back to the basket with 3:45 remaining as CHS appeared to have its legs back under them. But RNE had life left in it, as well, using a pair of Jackson baskets to trigger a 6-0 run which put the guests on top, 51-46, with 2:34 showing on the game clock.
Getting a Jalathea McClendon free throw and a Perry layin off an inbounds feed from Brooke Dixon, CHS was within a pair at 51-49 with 2:08 to play. But RNE had an answer as Reed nailed a trifecta nine seconds later. Camden closed the gap to 54-52 with Dixon bottomed out the third of her 3-point jumpers on the night with a minute to play. The RNE lead was still two points after a CHS free throw with 33.5 made it 55-53. But the visitors closed with a 5-0 run, courtesy of Reed who sank five of six chances from the free throw line in the closing 33 seconds.
While RNE had the better closing run, it was Camden which was on spot from long range in the first quarter with threes from Dixon, Perry and Kentrell Salmond giving the home side a 9-2 lead a little more than two and a half minutes of play. Two-point baskets from Brooks, Crim and McClendon helped as the Lady Bulldogs led, 15-7, after the first quarter.
With RNE struggling from the field and Camden controlling the glass, it allowed the Lady Bulldogs to get out and run. The transition game paid off with good looks at the basket which turned into points.
Salmond would knock down two more treys to open the second quarter while a Dixon stickback and a short jumper from Massey extended Camden’s lead to 25-10 midway into a second quarter which ended with Jeffcoat and company holding onto that 15-point edge as they headed into their locker room with a 28-13 advantage which disappeared in the second half as RNE looked to the outside for its points.
"We didn’t do a good enough job getting out on them," Jeffcoat said of her defense and its trying to corral Taylor and Reed. "I don’t think they even took too many threes in the first half; I don’t think they were looking for it.
"I guess they just started rolling with it, especially (Reed and Taylor.) They got hot and they were the ones who hand the ball in the hands most of the time. We just didn’t do a good enough job of stopping them."
RNE (60): CHS (53): Score by quarters:
RNE (60):Cortazia Windley 1 1-2 3, Daisha Jackson 7 1-3 15, Maleisha Taylor 5 3-10 17, Florence Black 0 2-4 2, Uriah Huffman 0 1-2 1, Sarina George 1 0-0 2, Sydney Reed 5 6-8 20. Totals: 19 14-29 60
CHS (53):Brooke Dixon 4 1-2 12, Treana Perry 3 3-5 10, Kentrell Salmond 3 1-2 10, Audria Brooks 1 1-2 3, Jania Crim 3 1-4 7, Jalathea McClendon 1 1-2 3, Dayajoi Belton 0 0-4 0, Ariyan Massey 2 3-4 8. Totals: 17 11-25 53
Score by quarters:First: CHS, 15-7; Halftime: CHS, 28-13; Third: 39-39; Three-point goals: RNE 8 (Taylor 4, Reed 4), CHS 8 (Dixon 3, Salmond 3, Perry, Massey)