In its non-conference game against West Johnston Wednesday night, it took awhile for the South Johnston girls basketball team to decide on what it wanted to run on defense and on offense. Once the Trojans made their mind up, however, the way was paved for a 56-41 win.
The Trojans (5-2) jumped out to a 15-0 lead after one quarter but saw the lead shrink to just three points in the fourth quarter before South Johnston hit 10-of-12 foul shots down the stretch to ice the game.
The free throws came as a result of South Johnston deciding to pull the ball out and forcing the Wildcats (1-5) to play chase or foul the final six minutes of the contest.
“We kept trying to change offenses until finally we figured out at the end just to pull it out and use the clock, make them foul (us) or make them go man-to-man because we felt like we could take them man-to-man,” South Johnston coach Ronda Johnson said.
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Due to injuries to four different contributors, West was forced to rely on its high-scoring backcourt duo of Nadia Blevins and Christian Sanders for much of its offense.
Blevins and Sanders combined for 39 of the team’s 41 points but the goose egg the Wildcats put up on the board in the first quarter proved to be too much for the visitors to overcome.
“The first quarter we didn’t hit anything at all,” said West Johnston coach Laura Jefferson. “When you pick and choose your minutes, it kills you.”
Sanders led the team with 24 points and Blevins heated up in the second half, knocking down a trio of three-pointers in the third quarter alone as the Wildcats clawed back into the contest.
After exploding for 19 points in the third quarter and starting the fourth quarter on a quick 7-0 run, the Wildcats were held to four points the final six minutes of the game thanks to more adjustments from South Johnston.
“Defensively we tried zone, which was good until they started hitting,” said Johnson. “Then we played a 1-3 (zone) on (Sanders) and then we had to start playing a triangle because (Blevins) started lighting it up. We finally switched to a triangle and I think that’s what made the difference on defense.”
Having had what was once an 18-point lead trimmed to three early in the fourth quarter, South Johnston took a timeout to calm things down and it worked. On the Trojans’ next possession, South Johnston patiently moved the ball around before Emma Blackman received the ball 10 feet from the basket and hit a bank shot that stemmed the tide.
Three who mattered
Anna Webster, South Johnston: Webster was a force for the Trojans leading the team both in points (24) and rebounds (11).
Christian Sanders, West Johnston: Sanders was everywhere and did everything, including scoring 24 points to lead all scorers.
McKinley Johnson, South Johnston: Johnson ran the point effectively for the Trojans and helped to seal the game in the final moments at the free-throw line, where she connected on seven-of-nine attempts on the night.
They said it
“We’re a hard working team,” Jefferson said. “We play hard, we just don’t play smart.”
Emma Blackman, South Johnston: Blackman pitched in with eight points and pulled in eight rebounds for the Trojans.
By the Numbers
5: Made three-pointers for West Johnston.
24: Total number of three-pointers the Wildcats hoisted.
0: Points West Johnston scored in the opening quarter.
11: Assists dished out by McKinley Johnson.