By Jeff Nations
FRONT ROYAL -- Here's one history lesson there can be no doubt Warren County's girls basketball team absorbed this season.
After surviving for a one-point win against Randolph-Macon Academy on Dec. 13, the Wildcats were intent on not letting history repeat itself in Monday night's rematch.
Warren County set the tone, pushed the pace and romped to a 49-18 victory.
To Wildcats junior forward Lauren Woodrell, that first game -- a 28-27 nail-biter on Warren County's home court -- was nothing short of "scary."
Lulled into the Yellow Jackets' slower pace and stymied by an effective box-and-one defense, Warren County (8-8) nearly learned that lesson that hard way. Not this time, not if Woodrell had anything to say about it.
"I think it made the difference -- the intensity level was really high up and I think that's what made us do better this time than we did last time," Woodrell said.
The Wildcats used their superior height to maximum advantage, bottle-necking the paint with a 3-2 zone and snatching nearly every rebound to limit R-MA's chances.
By the end of the first quarter, Warren County led 15-1 and was never really threatened the rest of the way.
"Last time we played them early in the season, they had done a really good job on us with the box-and-one in the second half," Wildcats coach John Kelly said. "It really shut us down. We were better prepared for that this time."
R-MA (4-6) was missing a key component from that first matchup, as defensive ace Bianca Clement was sidelined with an injury. The first time around, she held Warren County's leading scorer, Alesha Adams, to seven points. Adams had seven points by the end for the first quarter on Monday night, and finished with a game-high 15.
With Adams and Woodrell (game-high nine rebounds) setting the tone, the Wildcats put away the Yellow Jackets in a matter of minutes.
The Yellow Jackets didn't get their first field goal until Anastasia Voellm scored on a layup off her mid-court steal with 6:42 left in the first half, and that basket represented half of R-MA's shooting success in the first two quarters.
"They pressed, they sped us up -- I thought we broke the press well, but then once we broke it we still got quick shots," Yellow Jackets coach Jeff Moxie said. "They weren't our kind of shots and it got us out of our game."
The Wildcats put any thoughts of a comeback out of mind in the third quarter, opening that frame on an 8-0 run that pushed the lead to 35-8 with 4:02 left in the period.
"We pushed the ball -- we set our tempo," Kelly said. "If we're setting our tempo in a game, we're usually a pretty good team. When we don't set the tempo and teams slow us down, we tend to play their style or to their level and it hurts us."
Warren County outrebounded the smaller Yellow Jackets, 38-19, and limited R-MA's second-chance opportunities to just a handful.
"We played our game," said Woodrell, who tallied eight points to go with her nine boards. "It was fun. We weren't thinking X's and O's -- we just wanted to win."
Voellm finished with eight points to lead the Yellow Jackets, and Cheyenne Jamison added seven. R-MA hit on just 6 of 46 shots (13 percent).
"We were cold, couldn't make anything," Moxie said. "We were struggling.
" ... They played real aggressive defense, I give it to them. They outworked our girls today. They got every loose ball, every jump ball -- it looked like we were in slow motion out there. But I think that also comes from not hitting some shots."
The Wildcats managed a more respectable 36 percent (18 of 50 shooting). Jordyn Becker matched Woodrell with eight points.
"Having four or five days off without any practice, I was surprised they shot this well," Kelly said. "That's a tribute to how hard they worked earlier today at our shoot-around."
Sports editor Jeff Nations can be reached at 540-465-5137 or at firstname.lastname@example.org