With just three seniors on the roster, Voyager Academy coach Santina Ford knew the going would be rough. She just didn’t know how rough.
The Vikings lost eight of their first nine games of the season. But they had split their past four games before Friday night and were 2-1 in the N.C. Athletic Conference.
“It’s tough rebuilding again,” Ford said. “It’s a big adjustment coming from middle school to varsity play. But they’ve come a long way in two months.”
Voyager traveled Friday to Raleigh’s St. Timothy School to take on Raleigh Charter in the last conference matchup before the Christmas break. The ladies put on quite a show that went down to the wire before the Phoenix pulled out a 40-39 victory.
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Voyager (2-9 overall, 2-2 NCAC) trailed by double digits early in the game but fought back to pull to within four at halftime. Sophomore Mackenzie Allison tied the game at 26 in the third period before Paige Huguely put Raleigh Charter ahead by two points just as the quarter ended.
Senior Amber Riggs’ 3-pointer to open up the fourth gave the Vikings their first lead of the game at 29-28. Allison’s short jumper made it 31-28 with five minutes remaining.
But the Phoenix (4-4, 2-1) kept the margin close and, after trailing 39-36 with two minutes left, scored the game’s final four points.
Huguely cut Voyager’s lead to one before Nana Owusu hit the winning basket with a minute left.
Vikings Stacy Oxendine had a shot rim out with 20 seconds remaining.
“She’s still kicking herself,” Ford said. “But it was a good shot, and they fought hard. Hopefully, we can take the momentum into the new year.”
Riggs led Voyager with 15 points and four steals.
Boys win fifth straight
No team is hotter than the Voyager boys.
Voyager’s (10-1, 4-0) only loss was Nov. 29 in Greensboro to Virginia Episcopal School, a team that featured several Division I recruits. The Vikings are winning by an average margin of 20 points.
Despite a spirited effort, Raleigh Charter was no match for the bigger and quicker Vikings, who led from start to finish in a 69-32 win.
Of course, as all coaches do, coach Mike Huff found things he didn’t like.
“We didn’t shoot free throws well, and our rebounding needs to get better,” he said. “They (Raleigh Charter) really played hard.”
Junior guard Collin Faucette led all scorers with 16 points, while Jay Huff – the coach’s son – added 12 points, eight rebounds and two blocks.
The Vikings will put their record to a severe test at the three-day Lindberg Moody Holiday Classic in Rock Hill, S.C. Voyager opens in the tournament against Charlotte’s Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology on Dec. 29.
“We have some losable games coming up over the holidays,” Coach Huff said. “A loss wouldn’t be the worse thing, but we always play to win. We have to continue to develop as a team.”