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Jefferson Forest picked the wrong night to host the Golden Eagles.
The Staunton River girls' basketball team came out with a vengeance and systematically dismantled their county counterpart squad from Jefferson Forest.
The Lady Eagles could do no wrong, as all aspects of their game were hitting on all cylinders. A team that has allowed teams to linger and make games close looked more like a team that wanted to throttle the opposition.
"We came out with a point to prove," said Eagle Head Coach Kim Jones. "We wanted to show we can be at the top."
The final score was 52-35 as Staunton River played its finest ball of the season, led by its talented group of seniors. Caitlin Falls and Allison Huddleston each knocked back 13 points. Falls caused her damage from the inside, while Huddleston rained down blasts from beyond the three-point arc, hitting nothing but net.
Kelly Jackson added 9 points, her quick style of play often befuddling the Lady Cavs and keying Eagle breakaways. Talika Robinson played an exceptionally strong game, pulling down 10 rebounds.
The underclassmen got into the act as well. Lakisha Craghead and Courtney Dearing combined to produce outstanding hard-nosed point guard play. Craghead's deft hands and pesky style earned her four steals, despite injuring her hand in the first quarter.
"They played as a team," noted Jones. "That's why I'm so proud of them."
When Staunton River is on its game, as it has been in its last five games, the strength of this team is that it isn't a one-trick pony. The inside game is as deadly as is the outside game. Every player gets into the rebounding act, even its more diminutive players. It can play at both an explosive pace as well as one that is more staid.
The collapsing Eagle defense limited high-flying Mandy Dix to 12 points on the evening, tops for the Lady Cavs. Dix found a lot of Staunton River bodies closing down the driving lanes to which she's become accustomed. Sophomore Rachel McKeague was the only other Forest player to hit double digits, as she nabbed 11 hard-earned points. The versatile McKeague also reined in 9 boards.
Going into the game, Forest Head Coach Tom Brown likened his team to Sissyphus, the figure from Greek mythology that spends eternity rolling a boulder up a hill, just to have it roll back down so he can start over. Having won the six games prior to the meeting with Staunton River, you can be assured that the Lady Cavs will get that boulder rolling again at its next opportunity.
Eagles trounce Minettes
Liberty played its best half of basketball of the season, but it wasn't enough as Staunton River wore down the Minettes with its vast array of tools.
A scrappy Liberty team went toe-to-toe with the Eagles. Kari Cassell's three pointer put the Minettes ahead 22-19 just before the half. "We got some shots to fall and played with some fire," stated Liberty Head Coach Andrew Kelso.
However, it wasn't to last.
"We had a slow start," said Staunton River Head Coach Kim Jones. "At the half, I told them somebody has to step up and play their game."
It appears that Talika Robinson listened to her coach as she keyed a huge third quarter rally that saw the Eagles build a ten point lead. Robinson started things off with a steal and a layup, and it was all Staunton River after that. Robinson scored 17 points to lead all scorers. Caitlin Falls and Allison Huddleston each added 10.
That third period Staunton River surge was helped by the absence of Liberty's Stephanie Chambers, who left the game after getting an elbow to the neck.
Jennifer Coleman put up 13 points to lead the Liberty scoring attack.
In a very rough contest, that featured at least three Minettes seeking medical attention, the refs called it as they saw it. As a result, there was a steady parade to the foul line, where the Eagles shot a stunning 21-for-30. Liberty faltered at the charity stripe, going 11-for-26. "When they hit all their free throws and we don't, it's like a turnover," lamented Kelso.
In the second half, alone, there were 28 total fouls called as the crowds for both teams howled at every hack by an opponent and every whistle that went against their team.
Staunton River hosts William Campbell today (Wednesday, Jan. 23).