Lady Raiders gelling at right time

Published 1:44 pm Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Southampton Academy girls basketball team may have lost both games at the Battle of the Border Tournament at Brunswick Academy, but head coach Jeffrey Pope believes his team is playing its best ball of the year.

“We were without a bunch of our players for the tournament, whether it was them being sick or on a family trip,” he said. “If we would have had our full deck, we probably would have won one game and competed in the other.”

The Raiders fell just short, 73-60, in the tightly contested tournament opener against Crossroads Christian Academy of Henderson, North Carolina, and Pope commended his team for their effort.

“We played really well under the circumstances, especially since we only had a handful of girls able to play,” Pope said.

Southampton Academy, shorthanded once again, was eliminated from the tournament on the second day of play, losing in blowout fashion to Halifax Academy of Halifax, North Carolina, 45-12.

“It was pretty bad,” Pope said of the performance, in which the Vikings held the Raiders to season lows in points, rebounds and field goal percentage. “We just had to put it behind us.”

And the Raiders did just that, opening the new year with a 20-point win against Kenston Forest School. At full-strength, Pope is confident that this is the true reflection of his squad.

“We played the best game we’ve had all year,” he said.

Sophomore forward Mason Pope returned from a family vacation to pace the Raiders with 20 points and 11 rebounds against the Kavaliers.

“We really missed her,” her coach said. “Any time that you have someone lead the team with that many points and rebounds, it’s obvious that she plays a big role in what we do.”

Southampton Academy moves to 4-5 on the season, 1-0 in league play, and will play the second of three-consecutive home games this Thursday, Jan. 8, against Richmond Christian.

“They’re coming together,” Pope said. “I see them starting to get it and understand their roles.”