Defense sparks Yellow Jackets

FRONT ROYAL — With the offense struggling, Randolph-Macon Academy relied on a tenacious defensive effort on Thursday.

The Yellow Jackets switched to a full court man-to-man defense and turned the game around in a 25-15 girls basketball victory over Wakefield Country Day.

“We practice defense a lot because I know we’re probably going to always struggle a little bit on the offensive side. We’re lacking shooters,” R-MA coach Jeff Moxie said. “We try to keep it under like 20, 25 points. I tell the girls if you keep it under 20, 25 points, we’ll have a chance to win.”

Things didn’t start off well for the Yellow Jackets as the Owls took a 10-4 lead after the first period, aided by a 7-0 run.

At the start of the second period R-MA, switched defenses and Wakefield Country Day could not handle it. The Owls didn’t score a point in the entire second period.

“I think that really helped, because pressuring other players makes them scared,” R-MA senior Emmanuela Imansuangbon said.

Immansuangbon scored five of her team’s seven points in the period to help R-MA take an 11-10 lead at the half.

The Yellow Jackets (1-0) had their best offensive showing in the third period. Immansuangbon got things started with a steal and a layup. After a free throw by Wakefield Country Day’s Maeve Dale, the Yellow Jackets scored the last 10 points of the period. Julia Norton had four points during the stretch, and Immansuangbon had another steal and layup.

Immansuangbon led the Yellow Jackets with 10 points. Moxie said the senior will be a key to the team’s success.

“Hopefully she has a big year,’ Moxie said. “She’s stronger and quicker. Our offense runs through her. We try to get her the ball as much as possible. She works hard. She plays hard. She’s our go-to girl.”

The Owls missed 25 straight shots until a basket by Tatum Vaught cut the lead to 23-15 with 2:29 remaining in the game.

Both teams struggled with turnovers as R-MA had 31, and Wakefield Country Day had 27.

The Owls were led by Dale with nine points.

R-MA has a very young squad, and Moxie said it showed in the season opener. He said he thinks the team can do well as the season goes on.

“We’re young. The ceiling’s high for us,” Moxie said. “I think if we can settle down a little bit, and still play good defense we can make a run in this league this year.”

Natalie Pendie had eight points for the Yellow Jackets. Immansuangbon said she is confident that her senior season can be a good one.

“I think we can get to the [conference] championship,” Immansuangbon said. “We just have to work hard.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com