IWA girls to work on turnovers down stretch

Published 12:09 pm Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Isle of Wight Academy girls basketball team spent the month of January on a roll, winning six of its eight games. This past week was a tough test, though, as the Lady Chargers were set to face the top two teams in the Metro Conference.

Isle of Wight’s Gabriella Hooper pulls down an offensive rebound and looks to push it out. She has led the Chargers in scoring over the past four games, averaging 14 points. -- Cain Madden | Tidewater News

Isle of Wight’s Gabriella Hooper pulls down an offensive rebound and looks to push it out. She has led the Chargers in scoring over the past four games, averaging 14 points. — Cain Madden | Tidewater News

On Tuesday, they hosted No. 2 Williamsburg Christian Academy and were defeated 69-36 by last year’s conference winner.

“Coming in, we knew they were the number one team in the conference, athletically,” head coach Chris Hooper said. “Their whole premise is to put pressure on you for the entire game, in the full court and half court press.”

As a result, the Chargers turned the ball over a lot, more than 20 times.

“You can’t turn the ball over against good teams,” said Hooper, adding that it is even more critical when you are facing a team that’s tough to defend.

The Lady Eagles (17-3, 9-1 Metro Conference) have 6-foot-1 junior center Imani Bryant, who dropped 29 points on them and pulled down 15 rebounds. She also had five blocked shots and six steals.

“She has a wingspan of someone who is 6-foot-4 — very long arms,” Hooper said. “It’s tough defending them because if you clasp down on her, they have two girls who can sit out behind the arch and shoot. Last time we played them, they kicked it outside and hit 10 threes.

“And if they miss, even if you block [Bryant] out, she can still get the rebound. You have to really block her out far away from the basket.”

Atlantic Shores Christian, the current No. 1 seed, came to town on Friday, and handed the Chargers a 57-37 loss.

Isle of Wight hung with the Lady Seahawks (15-7, 10-1) last time around, losing a close match by seven points back in December. This time, however, the Seahawks had picked up a pair of shooters who were lights out from three.

“Last time we played them, they were a drive and try to score or get fouled team,” Hooper said. “Defensively, we played man-to-man against them, and they were able to drive and kick. They made nine threes.”

Hooper said the Seahawks also put on the press a lot, and the Chargers turned the ball over more than average. In the loss, though, Gabriella Hooper had a solid night, scoring 18 points and pulling down eight rebounds.

On Jan. 27, the Chargers were able to get their sixth win of January with a 49-22 win against the StoneBridge Lady Cavaliers (3-9, 2-7) in a conference match, 49-22.

Brooke Olsavicky led Isle of Wight in scoring with 14 points, but the entire team was able to contribute.

“It was one of those games where everybody on our team scored except for one player,” Hooper said. “It was a night where we were able to get substitutes in and everybody got to play. Everyone played a fair amount of time, which is good.”

The 38-26 score against Denbigh Baptist (6-7, 3-7 Metro) was a lot further away than it looks, as once the subs came in during the second half, the Lady Minutemen were able 18 points, where previously they had only managed eight in the first half.

Hooper said despite Gabriella Hooper’s 17 points, Isle of Wight really had an off-night.

“We really didn’t flow very well offensively,” he said. “It was a slow game.”

The Chargers (10-8, 6-4) are the Metro Conference’s third seed with four games left to play until the tournament, though only two of them are conference games.

“We’re just working on consistency, and executing our game plan,” Hooper said. “The big thing is taking care of the basketball. If we can take care of it, we can do a better job and execute our offense.

“Our defense has not been bad this season. If a girl can make a 20-foot shot with someone right in her face, then that’s not on us.”

In the first of two final Metro regular season games, Isle of Wight will play the Broadwater Academy Vikings (8-5, 4-5) tonight in Exmore.