By Brad Fauber - firstname.lastname@example.org
BERRYVILLE -- It wasn't pretty, but the James Wood girls basketball team survived a physical battle with host Clarke County in nondistrict action on Monday.
Both teams had players in foul trouble as early as the third quarter, and it was a four-point game entering the final four minutes of play, but the Colonels scored the final 12 points of the contest to take the 51-35 victory, their second win of the young season.
"It's a win -- it wasn't pretty, but it's a win," said Colonels coach Rhonda Slider. "It was just a battle. It wasn't any great play ... it was just scrappy and, I guess, keeping at it and not letting the comebacks keep bothering you every time and just kind of staying focused."
Taking care of the ball was an issue for both teams all night, and turnovers finally caught up with Eagles as they turned it over seven times in the final four minutes while failing to make a basket.
Clarke County (0-3) began the fourth quarter down 36-26 and was able to cut into the Colonels' lead after back-to-back baskets by junior Becky Smith and a bucket from freshman Sydney Chrane made the score 39-35 with less than 4:30 to play.
James Wood (2-0) responded with a quick score from freshman Morgan Duncan, and used two Eagles' turnovers to get easy layups in transition to extend the lead to 12 with two minutes to play, effectively ending a brutal game in which both teams combined for nearly 50 fouls.
"Clarke County is really good with the aggressive defense -- we were just able to pull together as a team," said Colonels senior Miranda Moore, who led James Wood with 16 points. "We were just able to pull it out."
Clarke County had a very difficult time finding the bottom of the net in the first half, shooting just 2-for-33 from the floor and scoring only 12 points. Despite the poor shooting, the Eagles only trailed by seven at the break and battled back from a 16-point deficit in the third quarter to keep things interesting before the inconsistency took its toll. Chrane led the Eagles with 14 points.
Eagles coach Tim Lawrence said a lot of his team's offensive miscues were mental mistakes that come with having a young team, but he also pointed out that the blame for his team's struggles begins at the top.
"I didn't do a good job of having the kids ready to play," Lawrence said. "We got off to a terrible start. It's pretty difficult to be successful when we have that type of offensive performance [in the first half]. We just didn't play with any type of energy tonight, and that's on the coaching staff.
"I felt like we made some progress [against Handley last Thursday], but tonight I feel like we took about 10 steps back."