R-MA still no match for cold-shooting Patriots

By Jeff Nations

FRONT ROYAL — Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy’s Samantha Yarnall grudgingly agreed to a postgame interview on Friday.

Yarnall wasn’t really in the mood to talk about her team’s easy 47-13 victory over Randolph-Macon Academy, or her own near double-double of 13 points and nine rebounds. Yarnall didn’t think she or her team played particularly well despite the lopsided score.

That’s just the mindset SVCA coach Lauren Culler was hoping to instill in her team this season when she amped up the schedule difficulty by sprinkling in more public school opponents than in years past, and the Patriots responded by opening the season with two wins in three tries against public-school competition.

“That definitely helped prepare us for now and for future opponents down at NACA,” Yarnall said. “But the competition, everything is so much more intense playing public schools that we really had to pick it up. We just need to learn to keep playing on that level and not lower our level down to other teams.”

SVCA (6-1) had little trouble with the youthful Yellow Jackets, who are still trying to settle down the point guard position after losing longtime starter Anastasia Voellm to graduation. R-MA (0-3) committed 35 turnovers in the game, which led to lots of fast-break chances for the Patriots.

SVCA opened the game on a 9-0 run, and R-MA never really did muster much of a response on offense.

“We’re a very young team and this is our third game of the year,” Yellow Jackets coach Jeff Moxie said. “We’re definitely trying to get the ball to our bigs in the blocks. We must have missed 15 little putback rebounds that we just didn’t finish.”

That was the one positive for R-MA, which controlled the boards by outrebounding the Patriots 42-29.

“They definitely outrebounded us and their defense was good,” Yarnall said. “Their shots just weren’t dropping. That’s what we beat them on.”

The Patriots were a pedestrian 4 for 16 from the field in the first quarter, but came alive in the second period when guard Grace Snyder got on the floor. Snyder was a late arrival to the game from a pre-approved appointment, but after shaking off the effects of no warm-ups she found her shooting touch. Snyder sank back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the second quarter to push the Patriots further ahead.

“She actually, I think, helped us because as you saw we weren’t doing our best,” Culler said. “I think she helped light a fire, slowly, for some of the regular girls. We were wondering if last week — we had five games in six days — and you just wonder if its finally caught up to them.”

Carol Bartholomew (12 points, four rebounds) provided a steady scoring presence in the paint for SVCA, and Yarnall showed her ability to finish drives in the lane and hit the outside shot even if it wasn’t her best outing.

“She kept her head in the game and she kept working,” Culler said. “I think she passed off when she could have taken some shots, but sometimes when they don’t feel like they’re dropping then they’ll pass before shooting.”

The Yellow Jackets nearly had three players in double digit rebounding. Emmanuela Imansuangbon led the way with 15 rebounds, followed by Angel Murphy with 11 and Elenda Nwandu with nine. Maddy Chafin led R-MA with five points.

Both teams struggled mightily from the field, especially R-MA (5-for-49, 10.2 shooting percentage. SVCA was a little better (19-for-64, 29.7 percent) from the field and the free-throw line (6-for-13). The Yellow Jackets hit just 3 of 17 free-throw attempts.