This would be the perfect time for Von Duncan to pull out the "woe is me" card. Instead, the Lugoff-Elgin girls’ basketball coach puts on a stoic face and stares down adversity the only way she know how.
On a night in which her already thinned team lost two more players to injury, a getting healthy Camden squad added to L-E’s woes with a 62-40 win Friday inside the Demons Den.
The 22-point victory gave the Lady Bulldogs (2-4) a sweep of the two-game series with their rivals, which finished the game with five healthy players after Caitlyn Simon (knee) and Kristian Wells (head) exited in the first half with game-ending injuries.
When asked what might be next for her snake-bitten squad, Duncan smiled and said, "I wish I knew."
"Caitlyn’s been our best offensive player," Duncan said. "In our last game (at Brookland-Cayce), she scored 10 points. We’re just rolling with the punches."
While L-E battles through another wave of injuries, Camden was buoyed by the return of starting senior guard Brooke Dixon. While the Francis Marion University signee scored nine points after missing the better part of three games with a hand injury, her presence seemed to have a calming effect on the visitors.
"I think Brooke is such a steadying influence for us," said CHS head coach Natalie Jeffcoat. "We just looked so much more in sync tonight; a little more settled with what we were trying to do. She didn’t have a ton of points, but she did a lot of good things for us out there."
Simon, a 5-foot-7 inch freshman post player, went down with a knee injury with 4:29 showing on the first quarter clock. By that time, Camden had already taken an 11-2 lead thanks to five points from Dixon and another four from senior Audria Brooks.
L-E used a free throw from Alyssa Weems, who paced the hostesses with 14 points, and a Saige McLeod stickback to make it 11-6. Camden, however, closed the first stanza with an 11-2 run over the final 2:50 with four different players contributing, including four points from senior guard Treana Perry, who led all scorers with 17 points.
Camden padded its lead to 26-7 in the opening two minutes of the second quarter after getting baskets from Jalathea McClendon and a coast-to-coast Perry drive. Ebonie Ross cut the deficit to 26-12, scoring five straight points on a short jumper and then going long for a 3 with 4:42 left in the first half.
Using good ball movement to create open looks, the Lady Bulldogs went on a 14-1 spree to put this one away. Again, the surge saw several different players contributing as Kentrell Salmond and Brooks scored four points each in helping Camden to a 40-13 lead which was trimmed to 40-16 after L-E’s Unique Patterson capped the first half scoring by knocking down a trey in the closing half-minute.
Jeffcoat said she liked the way her team spread the wealth on offense.
"We’ve looked so helter-skelter the last couple games," she said with a smile while talking about her team’s offense. "I thought, at times, we looked like we knew what we were doing. That was kind of exciting."
Camden’s lead went to as many as 26 points when a Janai Crim basket made it 47-21 with 3:25 left in the third. Weems, a sophomore guard, provided much of the L-E offense as she scored eight of her team’s 13 points in the third which ended with the visitors holding a commanding 53-29 advantage.
Weems added a pair of treys in the fourth quarter in which CHS used a Salmond 3-point shot to hike the lead to 60-33 with 3:20 to play.
On the defensive end of the floor, CHS limited the Lady Demons to one shot, for the most part. Rebounding, Jeffcoat said, was something which was stressed in practice during the week.
"We worked hard on rebounding and finding somebody and boxing out," she said. "Heading into region play, we’re going to be going up against teams who really crash the boards hard and who are very physical teams. We have to play with maximum effort every time out, no matter who we’re playing."
While Jeffcoat and company are playing with a full complement of players, Duncan and L-E are trying to piece things together with an injury ravaged lineup.
"We’re probably going to have to pull some players up from jayvee," Duncan said of a team which will head to a post-Christmas tournament on Dec. 29. "We’ll just go back to the drawing board and, go from there."
CHS (62):Kentrell Salmond 3 1-2 9, Brooke Dixon 3 2-4 9, Audria Brooks 3 2-2 8, Jalathea McClendon 2 0-0 4, Treana Perry 5 5-6 17, Janai Crim 4 2-3 10, Dayajoi Belton 1 1-2 3, Kiaya Weathers 1 0-0 2. Totals: 22 13-19 62
L-E (40):Kristian Wells 1 0-0 2, Alyssa Weems 4 3-4 14, Saige McLeod 2 1-4 5, Ebonie Ross 4 3-6 13, Abby Gary 0 1-4 1, Unique Patterson 2 0-0 5. Totals: 13 8-18 40
Score by quarters:First: CHS, 22-7; Halftime: CHS, 40-16; Third: CHS, 53-29; Three-point goals: CHS 5 (Salmond 2, Perry 2, Dixon), L-E 6 (Weems 3, Ross 2, Patterson)