By Ben Brooks - firstname.lastname@example.org
BERRYVILLE - In Thursday's loss to Park View, the Clarke County Eagles were done in by a disastrous scoreless second quarter.
On Friday night, that same second period helped propel Clarke County to a 50-46 non-district girls basketball victory over visiting Stonewall Jackson.
In a game that featured fouls on just about every trip down the court and abysmal free-throw shooting by both teams, the Eagles (7-3) used a spurt late in the first half to create some distance between themselves and the Generals.
Clarke County outscored Stonewall Jackson 12-4 over the last 3 1/2 minutes of the second quarter to take a 29-20 lead into halftime. Although the Generals (1-8) eventually trimmed what ballooned to a 12-point advantage early in the third period to a bucket late in the game, they couldn't get over the hump.
"We're a team that feeds off those spurts," said Eagles coach Tim Lawrence, whose girls were playing for the third straight night. "That stretch allowed us to relax a little. It was just enough for us to keep them at bay."
During Clarke's late first-half run, five different Eagles scored. Kasey Canterbury's driving basket in the lane with 3:20 remaining started the spurt and Amy Hagerdon's putback of Shelby Brown's miss just before the buzzer ended it. In between, Logan Johnson penetrated the lane for a basket, Chelsea Nelson hit a 3-pointer and a foul shot, and Brown added two more from the line. The Eagles also took advantage of six turnovers during the stretch.
"We just can't put it all together," Generals coach Jeff Burner said. "Those little stretches we have are just too long. But this team has improved tremendously from the start of the year. I feel like right now we can compete with a lot of teams. We weren't able to do that early in the season."
What the Generals weren't able to do was take advantage of Clarke County's foul trouble. Stonewall Jackson made just 16-of-41 free throws. And while Generals center Heather Stout had a clear height advantage after Clarke's Jessica Dinkins picked up two quick fouls and sat most of the first half, Eagle reserves collectively held their own inside. Stout led all scorers with 15 points.
"Heather's a great player," Lawrence said. "I was worried what we were going to do, but our other kids held it together pretty well."
The Eagles didn't exactly shine from the foul line, either. They made just 14 of 35 and hit just 1-of-7 over the last minute and a half when they could have put the game away.
Following a Johnson free throw that stretched Clarke County's lead to 49-46 with 18 seconds left, Nelson tied up Stonewall Jackson's Cassie Conley just outside the 3-point arc. The Eagles got the ball on the alternating possession, and Hagerdon hit one free throw for the final margin of victory.
Johnson and Hagerdon paced Clarke County with 14 and 13 points, respectively. Ashlie Clar added 12 points for the Generals.
"It certainly wasn't perfect," Lawrence said. "We did just enough to win tonight."