Lady Raiders levy defense against Waves

Published 9:28 am Saturday, December 13, 2014

Playing their first home game of the season, the Southampton Academy Lady Raiders used a strong third quarter to push ahead of the Virginia Beach Friends School Waves, 36-25. The win improved the Raiders’ record to 3-2 on the young season, and gave head coach Jeffrey Pope a chance to see how his team could handle adversity.

“Luckily, none of the teams that we’ve played have really impressed us or taken advantage of our injuries,” Pope said.

Sarah Best is fouled as she gets some penetration for a shot in the paint.-- Cain Madden | Tidewater News

Sarah Best is fouled as she gets some penetration for a shot in the paint.– Cain Madden | Tidewater News

Friends School jumped out to a 12-9 first quarter advantage by attacking the interior defense of Southampton Academy. Waves point guard Zoie Henry recognized her team’s height advantage in the post, dropping off a pair of assists to forwards Kaleigh Nerritt and Jamie Katz, while pitching in six points of her own.

Both teams had a tough time putting the ball into the basket early on, evident by the five-minute scoreless stretch to open the second quarter. Raiders stormed back into the lead, however, as senior point Sarah Best made three shots from the field on consecutive trips down the court and led 16-15 at the half.

“They were changing defenses on us a lot at the beginning of the game, and they just settled into one defense at one point and we took advantage of it,” Pope said. “They were playing zone and we just found the open man.”

Southampton Academy would put the game out of reach in third quarter, shortly after Best went to the bench favoring her injured right hand. She attempted to facilitate the offense through others for most of the game, as she often dribbled and passed the ball with her left hand, but was clearly in pain while playing.

When Best, who finished with a team-high 11 points, found her seat, Pope implored his team to amp up the defensive intensity, pressing the ball when it crossed half court. Unsure how to handle the pressure, the Waves turned the ball over on back-to-back possessions in the third quarter, leading to easy buckets at the other end. Steals by Mina Johnson and Mason Pope helped stretch Southampton Academy’s lead to seven, before Avery Pope knocked down a shot as the clock was set to expire to give the Raiders a 28-19 advantage.

“We played man-to-man the whole game and we’re just able to settle into a rhythm in the third quarter,” said Pope. “We jumped into their passing lanes, leading to points on the other end.”

With his best player dealing with a hyperextended thumb, Pope noted that Christmas break is coming at the right time.

The Lady Raiders were back in action on Saturday, but will have 16 days off for the holidays.

“We’ll be able to rest, and the best thing for her to do is to not use it.”

Southampton Academy will close out the calendar year with the Battle of the Border Tournament at Brunswick Academy in Lawrenceville on Dec. 29 and 30.

“After that, we’ll jump right back into league play,” said Pope. “We have five or six straight conference games, and that will tell how well our season will go.”