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Girls Basketball: Sharp-shooting Cougars turn away Cyclones
BY JUSTIN RICE
A malfunctioning fire alarm canceled Courtland’s girls basketball practice on Thursday.
If that day off was somehow the cause of the Cougars’ shooting performance Friday, they may be inclined to take a few more breaks.
“Maybe we’ll just stop practicing before games,” said Courtland coach J.T. Nino, whose team was 29-for-60 from the floor in a 65–33 win against Eastern View.
The Battlefield District regular-season race isn’t over, but with another win against a potential contender, it looks more and more as if only a serious stumble by the Cougars could derail a march to the title.
If they shoot the way they did last night, such a derailment is probably unlikely.
But shooting hasn’t been Courtland’s strength at any point in its recent run as the Battlefield’s best team.
So the Cougars have worked on it and worked on it and worked on it some more.
“It’s repetition,” said Jessica Hairston, who was 9-of-18 from the floor and finished with a game-high 18 points. “It’s at least 45 minutes every practice. It’s jump shot after jump shot after jump shot for everybody, no matter who it is. Everybody is shooting.”
Forcing layups with defense helps, too.
Three straight fast-break baskets—two by Janae McNeal and a third from Imani Fennell off McNeal’s outlet pass—in the first quarter helped the Cougars grab control early.
Eastern View center Taylor Shanks, a former all-district player and the Cyclones’ leading scorer, didn’t play in the first half, and Courtland had built a 32–14 lead at the break.
“There’s not too many nights we shoot like that,” Nino said, “but the girls were playing with confidence.
“It started with our excellent job on defense, forcing them into difficult shots on every possession.”
Eastern View had 20 turnovers to just four for Courtland.
McNeal finished with 17 points, on 7-of-10 shooting. Anika Trent also had 17 and led the Cougars with 11 rebounds.
“If we shoot like that, it’ll be a challenge for other teams,” Trent said.
The challenge now for Courtland may be just to avoid relaxing. The Cougars have a two-game lead on James Monroe, and three games on Eastern View.
“We know what our ultimate goal is,” Hairston said. “Coach Nino is so stern about it. It’s one game at a time. This game right now is all we’re working for, all we’re playing for.”
For their coach, it’s just about improving every time the Cougars take the court.
“Our short-term goal is just to get better every day and play our best basketball every day,” Nino said. “The byproduct of that is hopefully winning a regular-season championship and then moving on to the district tournament.”
Eastern View 10 4 11 8 — 33
Courtland 17 15 21 12 — 65
Eastern View (11–5, 6–3): Angela Apperson 1, Sherlina Bowles 2, Lauren Brewer 9, Sadaja Clark 0, Allison Curry 5, Tanae Holmes 0, Ciara Jackson 12, Tiara Jackson 0, Randi Mauck 2, Taylor Shanks 2, Alexis Yates 0. Totals: 14 4-7 33.
Courtland (17–0, 9–0): Janae McNeal 17, Megan Amrhine 0, Alicia Bova 0, Khari Whited 0, Arianna Bradley 7, Jessica Hairston 18, Anika Trent 17, Imani Fennell 6. Totals: 29 6-11 65.
Three-point goals: Eastern View 1 (L. Brewer). Courtland 1 (A. Bradley).
Justin Rice: 540/368-5045