Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

January 22, 2014

Dropping a pair

Eagles soar past Valiants

HAHIRA — The Sherwood Christian Academy Eagles hit the road and knocked off both the Valwood girls and boys basketball teams Tuesday night at the Eager Sports Center 71-51 and 54-48, respectively.

Valwood's girls entered the game with just one win this season and faced a tough task trying to find win No. 2 against a tough squad from Albany.

Both offenses were effective in the first quarter getting shots up in the restricted area, but Sherwood managed to do just enough to take a 19-15 lead.

Key'yada Thomas provided a spark for the Eagles to open up the second quarter, hitting a 3-pointer and dishing three assists in the first three minutes of the quarter to swell the lead to 35-18. Thomas scored seven points with four assists in the second quarter alone.

The Valiants cut the lead back to six by working the ball in the post for easy baskets, but the Eagles went on another run to end the half and take a 38-27 lead into the locker room.

With her team facing a double-digit deficit, Hollis Waldron of Valwood took over the game in the beginning of the third quarter.

Eight points backed by tenacious defense from Waldron fueled the Valiants as they closed the deficit to four points, 45-41.

But once again Sherwood turned up the defensive intensity, pushing the lead back to 11 points going into the final quarter.

The Eagles' aggressive defense did not go away in the fourth, forcing multiple Valwood turnovers as Sherwood pulled away.

Waldron led the Valiants with 22 points and  Amanda Lupo and Ashley Manwell added 10 and six points, respectively. Madison Walker led the Eagles in scoring with 23 points in addition to Thomas' 16.

Sherwood    54

Valwood boys    48

Valwood held a clear height advantage over Sherwood, but the Eagles' smaller lineup entered with a 11-5 record.

The Valiants had struggled this season, but coming off three consecutive victories, this had the making of a great game and it lived up to those expectations.

Valwood raced out to a quick lead, scoring the game's first seven points in an efficient manner, but Sherwood quickly responded with seven points of its own, foreshadowing the game's back-and-forth nature.

Both teams battled to establish a lead in the first quarter, but it would be the Eagles who took the first quarter 16-13 thanks to a late 3-pointer.

The battle continued in the second quarter as both teams traded offensive spurts.

Valwood's offense fared best setting up in the half-court and getting the ball to its big men, De'Andre Lambert and Elliot Carter, in the post while Sherwood preferred to score in transition to offset the Valiants' size advantage. The match of opposing styles resulted in a 23-20 Eagle lead at halftime.

In the second half it appeared clear the Eagles' game plan was to keep the Valiants out of the paint and the ball out of the hands of Lambert and Carter.

Sherwood's defense opened the half extremely physical, eliminating easy shots out of the post, deciding instead to put Valwood on the free-throw line.

The strategy worked perfectly for the Eagles as the Valiants only made four of their 11 free throws.

Valwood played some solid defense of its own in the third quarter as well to keep the game to just a three-point margin, 35-32.

"They didn't (stop us from getting into the post), we stopped ourselves," said Valwood coach Carlos Jones. "We stopped feeding the post, we stopped moving the ball like we did in the first half and it came back to haunt us. Our strength is our inside game, and we got away from it."

Despite the close contest, the fourth quarter proved to lack much suspense as Sherwood continued to put Valwood on the free-throw line and the Valiants continued to miss The Eagles held onto the lead, never allowing the Valiants to get closer than five points.

"They executed, they hit big shots when they had to," said Jones. "We weren't executing. We shot terrible from the free-throw line; I told them all week, all season since I've become coach, eventually the free-throw line is going to hurt us and tonight it did, 11-27 at the free throw line and we lose by six."

Lambert and Elliot scored 19 and 14 points, respectively, for the Valiants who dropped to 3-6 with the loss.

Lareece Kelley had 17 points for the Eagles as they move to 12-5 on the season.

Valwood will be back in action Saturday when the Valiants travel to face Terrell Academy.

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