LEWISBURG (WVDN) – A really good St. Albans Red Dragons team came to Spartan gym on Saturday night, Dec.17, and left with a loss after the Greenbrier East Lady Spartans proved to be too much for them.
East played solid from start to finish and used several scoring runs to seal a 54-48 victory.
The Red Dragons are known for being long and athletic, and the Spartans were able to counter those two qualities by hitting timely outside shots and getting to the free throw line.
Kennedy Stewart hit a corner 3-pointer to start the games scoring; Caroline Dotson had an old fashioned 3-point play, and Cadence Stewart followed with a long 3, and East led 9-0 from the get-go.
But Niaisiah Pannell and Jaycee Elzy brought St. Albans back and capped an 11-0 run for an 11-9 lead. A C. Stewart 3 and 3 made free throws from Mackenna McClure give the Spartans a 15-11 lead after one quarter.
C. Stewart opened the second quarter with a deep 3-pointer that put East up 18-11, but a quick 5-0 run from the Red Dragons cut it to 18-16 on two Nunu Pannell free throws.
The Spartans (5-1) got excellent play from Alizabeth Wooding and McClure in the period. Wooding was rough on defense and rebounded it well, and McClure, along with C. Stewart, hit some key foul shots to keep the Spartans up 26-18 at halftime.
“Shots are better when they go in. It really gives you confidence,” McClure stated.
C. Stewart opened the second half with another deep range shot, and McClure put back an offensive board soon after to give the Spartans a 31-18 lead.
After another C. Stewart 3 put East back up 10 with 2:30 to play in the third, St. Albans (6-3) started to make a comeback. Elzy converted a 3-point play; Nunu Pannell hit a 3; and then Elzy scored again on a jumper. That cut the Spartan lead to 38-36, but Wooding got a much-needed bucket on the other end, and East led 40-36 heading to the fourth and final quarter.
No matter how close the Red Dragons got, the Spartans always had an answer. Leading just 48-42 with 2:00 remaining, Dotson scored a layup on a nice feed from K. Stewart and her sister Cadence closed out the game with four made clutch foul shots down the stretch.
C. Stewart had a game-high 31 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. McClure took home Player of the Game honors and scored 9 points.
McClure, a freshman, is beginning to settle in after the jump from middle school to high school.
“The first couple games I think I just couldn’t get my groove, because I was a little uncomfortable out there, but after a while I just got confident, and that helped a lot,” McClure said.
“This was really big,” McClure said of the victory. “I don’t think we realize how big it is.”
The Spartans will play this Wednesday night, Dec. 21, at Oak Hill, then have Christmas break before heading for a tournament in South Carolina.
Stats and quotes courtesy of Oldies 93, WRON.