By Ben Brooks - firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- James Wood High School girls basketball coach Rhonda Slider saw a certain look in Shannan Thorne's eyes just before the second half of Friday night's non-district home game against Fauquier.
If Thorne's third-quarter performance is any indication, Slider may want to see a lot more of that look the rest of the season.
Thorne, a 6-foot senior center and Wood's only returning starter from last year, scored 10 of her team-best 16 points and grabbed four of her game-high 16 rebounds in the third period to help the Colonels overcome a halftime deficit and defeat Fauquier 51-43.
"Shannan was just all over the place," Slider said. "Once she gets that spark in her eyes, it just seems to spark the rest of the girls."
Thorne's rebound putback in transition with just under five minutes remaining in the third quarter gave the Colonels (2-1) a 29-27 lead, their first since early in the second quarter and one they never lost. As expected, all four of Thorne's third-period field goals came from close range. One, however, was less than traditional.
Having trimmed their deficit to 31-30 on one of senior guard Bri Brizzi's five 3-pointers in the game, the Falcons had the ball and a chance to go ahead. But Thorne intercepted a pass just past midcourt and had nothing but daylight ahead of her.
"We usually don't want her doing a lot of dribbling," Slider said with a smile. "But she was all alone."
"I knew it was just me," Thorne said. "And I knew I had to make it or coach would be upset."
Thorne didn't disappoint, and neither did James Wood's pesky half-court trapping defense that not only helped force Fauquier into 16 second-half turnovers but also jump-started the Colonels' offensive attack that produced just 19 first-half points.
"We talked a lot about intensity at halftime," Slider said. "We tried the diamond trap a little there in the second quarter and decided to stay with it. It really seemed to spark our offense."
"We played a lot smarter in the second half," Thorne said. "We knew our first half wasn't good enough."
Fauquier coach Reed Gillespie credited the Colonels with finding a defense that worked and sticking with it. However, he was disappointed that his players couldn't make the necessary adjustments.
"Unfortunately, we didn't execute at all," Gillespie said. "We forced passes and didn't reverse the ball enough."
Brizzi led all scorers with 25 points, including Fauquier's first 14 of the game. While the Falcons (2-4) were nearly a one-woman show, James Wood spread its production around. Six Colonels scored six or more points. Kelsey Seymour had eight, including her team's only 3-pointer late in the third period that helped keep the Falcons at bay. Katelyn Pennington added seven points and Miranda Moore, Eric Hepner, and Whitney Dick chipped in with six apiece.
"That's what we've been pushing to the girls, that everybody's got to contribute," Slider said. "That's what it's going to take. We need points from six or seven players, not three."