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GIRLS BASKETBALL: Courtland gets even for setback

The Eastern View girls basketball team handed Courtland its first Battlefield District regular season loss since the 2008–09 season on Jan. 12.

The two-point setback left the Cougars dazed, but determined not to suffer a repeat performance the next time around.

It didn’t take long for Courtland to establish that the rematch would be different.

The Cougars handed the Cyclones their first loss of the season, a 75–36 blowout Monday night at Eastern View.

The victory pulled Courtland (17–2, 11–1 Battlefield) into a first-place tie in the district with the Cyclones (18–1, 11–1). Each team has two games remaining.

“It was very humbling,” Courtland senior forward Jessica Hairston said of the 51–49 loss in the first game. “Our coach let us know that on any given night we can be beaten if we don’t play hard. It just made us focus even harder in practice.”

Cougars coach J.T. Nino said his team took the first game for granted. Courtland had four starters returning from a 30–1 team that played for the Group AA, Division 4 championship last season.

The Cougars’ only loss entering the Eastern View game was to Group AAA Maury High of Norfolk.

Nino said losing to the Cyclones showed Courtland “we can be beaten by a Double-A team.”

“Maybe the loss was good for us in the long run,” Nino said. It sure looked that way on Monday.

The Cougars led just 11–10 after the first quarter, but the Cyclones displayed the sloppiness in the first eight minutes that would haunt them all night. They committed eight turnovers in the first quarter en route to 19 in the first half and 33 for the game.

The Cougars could sense Eastern View’s composure unraveling as they outscored them 25–7 in the second quarter.

“I could tell they were really getting [overexcited],” Courtland senior forward Janae McNeal said.

Hairston and McNeal paced the Cougars with 19 points apiece. Starting guard Kayla Demps added 10 points, including three 3-pointers.

Nino said Demps went into a shooting slump earlier this season, but came out of it in a win over James Monroe on Friday. That carried over Monday, as she connected on half of Courtland’s six 3-pointers.

“That’s big for us because 95 percent of the time we see zone [defense],” Nino said. “We hardly ever see man. Most of the time it’s the 2–3 [zone], so if we’re hitting our jumpers it stretches out the zone and allows us to do more stuff.”

Nino said in the loss to the Cyclones Courtland’s outside shots weren’t falling.

Eastern View was unable to hit from outside or inside Monday. Standout senior forward Taylor Shanks was held to eight points, and the Cyclones didn’t connect on a 3-pointer. They also suffered a potentially worrisome injury when starting forward Tiara Jackson left the game with a bloody nose in the third quarter.

“It doesn’t look good,” Eastern View coach Mike McCombs said.

The Cyclones will have to bounce back quickly. They host third-place Spotsylvania tonight. They defeated the Knights 50–46 on Jan. 11 in what McCombs said was “maybe the best ball game I’ve been a part of since I’ve been here.”

If the Cougars and Cyclones win their final two games, it will set the stage for a tiebreaker contest to determine the district tournament’s No. 1 seed on Saturday at either Culpeper or Spotsylvania.

Courtland hosts King George tonight.

McCombs said he’s a bit concerned about his team playing Spotsylvania one night after suffering its first loss of the season, but believes the Cyclones’ psyche isn’t too damaged by the defeat.

“We’ve got a bunch of seniors, so I think we’ll take care of that,” McCombs said. “But it’s something we haven’t done this year. We haven’t played off of a loss, so as a coach that’s something you’ve got to prepare for.”

Courtland 11 25 27 12 — 75

Eastern View 10 7 14 5 — 36

Scoring

Courtland (17–2, 11–1): Arianna Bradley 2, Melody Buckley 6, Kayla Demps 10, Imani Fennell 10, Naudia Foster 0, Jessica Hairston 19, Janae McNeal 19, McKayla Stokes 1, McKenzie Stokes 8, Brianna Talley 0. Totals: 30 9-19 75

Eastern View (18–1, 11–1): Angela Apperson 2, Sherlina Bowles 9, Sadaja Clark 3, Tanae Holmes 0, Ciara Jackson 7, Tiara Jackson 2, Randi Mauck 5, Dominique Scott 0, Taylor Shanks 8. Totals: 12 12-21 36

Three-point goals: Courtland 6 (K. Demps 3, J. Hairston, M. Stokes). Eastern View 0.

Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526

tcoghill@freelancestar.com

 

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