Posted December 12, 2012 | comments Leave a comment

Eagles top Falcons in district opener

Central's Meredith Phillips shoots a running one hand shot in the lane during first-half action with Clarke County High School Wednesday night in Berryville. At left, Clarke County's Allie HIcks and Becky Smith, center, defend. Rich Cooley/Daily

Central's Cianne Fields shoots over a group of Clarke County defenders during first-half action Wednesday night in Berryville. Rich Cooley/Daily

Central's Katelyn Poston goes in for a lay up while Clarke County's Sydney Chrane defends during first-half action Wednesday night in Berryville. Rich Cooley/Daily

Central's Sydney Plum goes up for a lay up while Clarke County's Stephanie Nelson defends during first-half action Wednesday night in Berryville. Rich Cooley/Daily

By Tommy Keeler Jr.

BERRYVILLE -- Central knew exactly what was coming on Wednesday night, but the Falcons still had trouble stopping it.

Clarke County used a smothering full-court press, and behind the play of center Sydney Chrane knocked off the Falcons, 46-36, in the Bull Run District opener for both teams.

"We knew what they were going to do and we practiced for it all week," Central coach Mallory Skarupa said. "We knew they were going to play up-tempo, in-your-face defense. We can't wait until the second half to start to play."

The Eagles (5-1, 1-0) took an early lead and never trailed in the contest.

Chrane dominated play early on, scoring the game's first six points, and nine in the first quarter.

"Obviously Syd was just a dominant force, particularly at the beginning of the game," Clarke County coach Tim Lawrence said. "I think it allowed the girls to relax after she got off to that great start. It allowed the girls to play a little more within themselves instead of having to force things so much."

The Falcons (4-1, 0-1) switched to a 2-3 zone, which helped slow her down to an extent.
Chrane had 15 of her team-high 18 points in the first half.

A jumper by Central's Katelyn Poston cut the Falcons' deficit to 8-6 with 5:22 left in the first quarter.

However, things got worse for the Falcons when both Poston and Meredith Phillips picked up two early fouls.

The Eagles closed the quarter with a 7-0 run, including three points from Chrane.

The switch to zone and the return of Poston and Phillips in the second quarter seemed to help early on. Central used a 5-0 spurt to cut the deficit to 24-15 with 4:56 left in the first half.

The Eagles were able to get Chrane some looks inside in the zone as she scored three straight points late in the quarter to help the Eagles to a 31-20 halftime lead.

" I thought we did a good job of getting good shots," Lawrence said. "We executed our offense pretty well at times."

The teams were pretty even in the second half. Turnover problems hurt the Falcons throughout the third quarter as they had six.

With a lot of new faces, Skarupa said the team chemistry is still coming along.

Things got very sloppy in the fourth quarter, as the teams combined for only nine points and 11 turnovers.

Phillips was in foul trouble throughout the second half, before fouling out with just less than four minutes to play. Skarupa said Sydney Plum has also been sick, which hurt a team with only eight players to begin with.

Lawrence was very pleased with the Eagles' defense -- especially on Poston, Central's leading scorer.

"I thought Rachel [Sefton] with her athletic ability was able to kind of make things difficult for [Poston]," Lawrence said. "She has the size and the strength to where she's not able to just overpower her when she takes her down on the drive. I felt like Rachel did a tremendous job staying between her and the basket, and honestly I think she's the unsung hero of the game tonight.

"Her defense allowed us to get a lot of turnovers and allowed the other girls to not have to help so much. When you can lock down on a team's best player and it allows everybody else to extend, it creates a lot of offensive opportunities."

Anna Blue Catlett had 12 points for the Eagles, who were coming off a loss to James Wood.

"It's great to start out undefeated in the district," Lawrence said. "We've been focusing on these games for a while now."

Poston led the Falcons with 16 points.

"We believe there's no team that can beat us. We're the only team that can beat us," Skarupa said. "That's not to take anything away from Clarke County. They played well. We have to get better as a team."

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com

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