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Prep Girls Basketball: Cyclones pass first test

BY NATHAN WARTERS

THE FREE LANCE-STAR

By outlasting Spotsylvania and its dynamic duo of Bria Carter and Kortni Simmons on Friday night, Eastern View’s girls basketball team survived one of the toughest challenges the Battlefield District has to offer.

The Cyclones barely had time to savor their 50–46 road victory before turning their eyes to their next big task—a road date with fellow district unbeaten Courtland on Saturday afternoon.

“We’re worn down, but I think that’s what this district does,” Eastern View coach Mike McCombs said.

“I told the girls that Courtland is the team to beat, so we’re going to go in there and give it our best shot and see what happens.”

The Cyclones (11–0, 5–0 Battlefield) did their best to slow down Carter and Simmons in an exciting back-and-forth game.

Simmons finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds, and Carter had 13 points, nine rebounds and four steals despite a slow start.

“We practiced for them the entire week, and we had our minds set on keeping the ball out of Carter and Simmons’ hands, and that’s what we did,” said Cyclones forward Taylor Shanks, who had 11 points and 18 rebounds.

Ciara Jackson had a team-high 17 points, seven rebounds and two steals for Eastern View.

Spotsylvania (7–5, 4–3) battled back from sizeable deficits twice and tied the game at 37 early in the fourth quarter on a put-back by Simmons. She caught the carom of her own miss off the backboard and laid the ball in the hoop to draw the Knights even for the first time in the second half.

The Cyclones responded by scoring seven straight points to take a 44–37 lead with 3:51 remaining.

Eastern View led 48–42 with less than a minute remaining, but Carter scored back-to-back buckets—the second of which followed a deflection and steal by the Knights—to cut the deficit to two with 8.6 seconds remaining.

That left the game in Shanks’ hands. She was fouled with 7.8 seconds on the clock and sank both of her free throws to give the Cyclones some breathing room.

“The pressure was on, but I felt confident,” Shanks said. “It was a huge relief [when both shots went down].”

Eastern View spent much of the week of practice working on rebounding, knowing it would be important against a team with the talent and strength of Spotsylvania.

The extra work paid dividends, as the Cyclones finished with a 43–26 advantage on the boards.

“I think we just needed to keep our heads focused more,” Carter said. “We needed a little more energy, and we should have rebounded more.”

Carter struggled to find her shot in the first three quarters before scoring nine points in the fourth.

“It just wasn’t my game early, but at the end I figured out how to take control because we were down,” Carter said. “I just had to take more shots and be more aggressive.”

Simmons said there was no fault in her team’s effort, which is why she is confident the Knights can bounce back from the close loss.

“I feel like if we come out and compete next game like we have been, we’ll be fine,” Simmons said.

As for Eastern View, it doesn’t have much time to recoup after such a hard-fought victory.

The Knights, Carter and Simmons in particular, made the Cyclones work for the victory.

“Those two girls are solid, man,” McCombs said. “Rock solid.”

Just as it was for Carter and Simmons, the Cyclones know it will take a lot of effort and energy to try to contain Courtland’s formidable duo of Janae McNeal and Jessica Hairston. McNeal leads the area with a 22.6 scoring average, and Hairston isn’t far behind at 17.3.

The Cougars, who won the 2012 Battlefield District crown en route to a state runner up finish, are still the standard-bearers in the district.

“We played really hard tonight, and we have to go out tomorrow and play even harder,” Shanks said.

“I think the district is pretty balanced,” McCombs said. “Courtland is still the team to beat, but the rest of us are still battling to get to where they are.”

    Eastern View 13 16 8 13 — 50

    Spotsylvania 8 14 11 13 — 46

    Scoring

    Eastern View (11-0, 5-0): Ciara Jackson 17, Sherlina Bowles 5, Tiara Jackson 5, Taylor Shanks 11, Randi Mauck 7, Tanae Holmes 2, Lauren Brewer 3, Sierra Mills 0. Totals: 18 10-18 50.

    Spotsylvania (7-5, 4-3): Makayla Baker 0, Bria Carter 13, Courtney Chmielewski 2, Brittany Hayden 2, Shatia Johnson 2, Chelsey McCabe 4, Kortni Simmons 23, Caroline Sorrell 0. Totals: 19 7-9 46.

    Three-point goals: Eastern View 4 (C. Jackson 3, T. Jackson). Spotsylvania 1 (K. Simmons).

Nathan Warters: 540/374-5442

nwarters@freelancestar.com

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/sports/2013/01/11/prep-girls-basketball-cyclones-pass-first-test/