By Jim Laise - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- Warren County scored just four points in the final quarter, but held on to edge Randolph-Macon Academy 28-27 Thursday in the cross-town rivalry.
The Wildcats (3-3) nipped the 1-4 Yellow Jackets in part because R-MA could muster but one field goal in a first quarter Warren County led 6-2.
Warren took a 19-9 halftime lead and owned a 24-15 advantage as the fourth quarter opened at home. Then it got tight.
"I'm very happy with the way we played," Yellow Jackets first-year coach Jeff Moxie said. "I thought we played excellent defense, particularly a box-in-one the whole night that kept their best player [Alesha Adams] in check for the most part. [R-MA's] Cheyenne Jameson hit a couple of 3s there at the end and I thought we fought throughout."
Said Warren coach John Kelly, "It was like we were playing in the 'other' gym. We played like we had goggles on in a dark gym."
Actually, the 6-foot junior forward Adams (eight points, three rebounds) -- the object of interest for the visitors -- exploded for six points and a rebound in a second quarter in which the Wildcats outscored the Yellow Jackets, 13-7.
Randolph-Macon led briefly 7-6 with 5:11 remaining in the half on an Anastasia Voellm steal and layup. Voellm (10 points) and Jameson (game-high 12), two seniors, stole balls throughout the night from Warren's back-court players. Often, they had trouble converting.
But when Voellm's second-quarter score gave the Yellow Jackets their only lead of the night, the Wildcats went on a 7-0 run with the help of Adams' back-to-back buckets to take what seemed like a commanding 13-7 advantage. They extended the intermission difference to 10.
That cushion was nine as the fourth quarter ensued. Jameson, who said, "I never make 3's," did so to open quarter four. Warren's Alyson Fox, a senior, fouled out after the first triple. Then Jameson drilled another trey with 5:21 to go in the game. The score was 24-21 Warren.
Lauren Woodrell followed up on a rebound for the Wildcats to stifle the R-MA run, but then Emmanuela Imansuangbon's deuce made the score 26-23 in favor of the winning team.
Warren County turned the ball over on consecutive possessions, but Randolph-Macon failed to make the Wildcats pay. Autumn Troxell's (team-high 10) jumper at the 1:52 mark seemed to put it away for the Wildcats, but the Yellow Jackets had other ideas.
Madeline Chafin missed the front end of a bonus free-throw opportunity, but teammate Imansuangbon followed with a twisting lay-in when she was triple-covered in the lane. Her basket cut the Warren lead to 28-25 with 1:42 showing.
With 5.8 seconds remaining, Imansuangbon intercepted a Warren County pass and called a timeout.
"We thought we'd drive it and hope for a foul and a three-point play. As it was, we just got the basket," said Moxie.
Out of the timeout, the Jackets worked the ball to Imansuangbon, who scored a layup at the buzzer to set the final.
"We didn't want to help them," said Kelly. "We said, 'Let them make the layup.'"
Warren County made an unofficial 19 turnovers to R-MA's 15, but four in the fourth quarter, when the Jackets cared for the ball, were important. The Wildcats just committed one miscue in the second quarter, when they assumed their 10-point lead.
"It seemed at the end as if our guards didn't want the ball," Kelly said. "We've got to learn how to win, no matter what the competition."
"We came out strong against a good team," Voellm said. "We got pumped up, hit some shots and decided we could play with them. The whole team was that way. If we made a mistake, we decided to ignore it and keep on playing."