By Dennis Atwood - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- Tuscarora dominated play in the second and third periods en route to a 55-38 win over Warren County on Tuesday in the Region II, Division 3 quarterfinals.
Warren County sophomore guard Alesha Adams poured in 14 fourth-period points for the Wildcats but it wasn't enough.
Both squads were tense and sloppy in the early going.
The lone field goal in the first period was scored by the Wildcats' Kelly Martin, after 4:15 had ticked off the game clock, her only points of the game, as Warren County added 6-for-10 free-throw shooting for eight points in the frame.
The Huskies had an even slower start, going 0-for-4 on free-throws in the first 2:47, and scoring only four free throws out of 12 attempts in the frame. The Huskies didn't make their first field goal until 7:08 in the second period.
Warren County had trouble with Tuscarora's full-court press and zone defense, committing 10 first-period turnovers to five for the Huskies.
Tuscarora found its offensive rhythm in the second period, in spite of making 10 turnovers, with seven players scoring. They were by two freshmen -- guard Alexis Bailey and forward Jhade Aird, who had three points each in the period.
The Wildcats also committed 10 turnovers in the second period, but managed only seven points.
Warren County took a 15-14 lead on a free throw by senior guard Gabby Turner with 1:21 left in the half.
It was the Wildcats' last lead of the game, as Megan Leonard nailed the first of her three treys on the night, followed by Takeia Edmonds' only field goal to give Tuscarora a 19-15 lead at the intermission.
Both teams failed to take advantage of their freebies in the first half, as Tuscarora shot an abysmal 8-for-22 at the charity stripe, and the Wildcats were not much better, at 6-for-15.
"I thought we handled the press pretty well in the first half," Wildcats coach John Kelly said. "In the second half, the ball bounced their way a couple of times in the press break. They put on six points early on and that really set the tempo in their style."
The Huskies blew the game open by taking the third period, 21-7, led by seven points from Bailey, and three combined 3-pointers from Leonard and Alysha Berry. That helped extend Tuscarora's lead to 40-22.
The 6-foot Adams kick-started her final-period surge by scoring five points in two seconds, by draining a trey, then stealing the Huskies' in-bounds pass for a layup with 5:56 remaining in the game.
But the Wildcats (11-13) could draw no closer than a 13-point deficit the rest of the way.
Tuscarora (17-8) made eight fourth-period trips to the charity stripe and went 9-for-16 from the line. Bailey was the most-frequent occupant, going 7-for-12, to finish with a team-high 17 points.
Adams finished with a game-high 25 points.
"Most important [this season] was playing as team, and being a family, because that's what we are," a tearful Adams said. "[In the fourth period] I had to step up and I had to do something to help my team. This is the game we really wanted."