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In what is shaping up to be one of the more critical games of the season, Staunton River will travel to Forest to take on the Lady Cavs this Friday evening.
If not for Brookville, these two would be battling it out at the top for Seminole supremacy. However, until someone steps up to show otherwise, the Bees are clearly at the top of the heap. Brookville has already beaten Staunton River twice this season (only once in Seminole play, the other came in the Byrd tournament), while the Bees dispatched Forest just before the break.
However, a lot still rides on Friday night's game, including getting a step up on District tournament seedings and claiming county bragging rights.
The game brings an interesting mix of contrasts. The obvious one is the youth of the Lady Cavs against the experience of the Eagles. Staunton River has a quartet of seniors which has both prowess and poise. Kelly Jackson brings a slashing style that can often times be quite explosive. Allison Huddleston's three point shot, which wreaked havoc last year on opponents, is finding its mark.
Steady Caitlin Falls always brings her workmanlike attitude and sound fundamentals to the mix and Talika Robinson uses her range and toughness to advantage.
At the point guard, the Eagles show either Courtney Dearing or LaKisha Craghead. It is hard to find as hard-nosed a player in the District as either of these two.
Forest is one of the more pleasant surprises in the District, as it wasn't supposed to be "rebuilt" until next season. "I don't think anyone here envisioned a 10-2 start," stated JF Head Coach Tom Brown. "We have been fortunate to have some kids develop in a hurry, while others are playing at higher levels than last year.
Senior Mandy "Flash" Dix has begun to light up the scoreboard in kicking off the new year. Her style is similar to Staunton River's Jackson. In her last four games, Dix has averaged 19 ppg.
Rachel McKeague is developing into one of the more notable players in the District. Ostensibly a point guard, McKeague could pretty much match up with any of the Eagles. How she is employed by Forest Head Coach Tom Brown will be interesting to note.
Renae Brooks brings a height that the Eagles do not have. She is leading the District in blocked shots by a wide margin. Meanwhile, Jessica Quarles should be expected to mix it up in the key with Falls and Robinson, with Talika's cousin LaQuaksha getting into the fun, as well. Quarles off-season conditioning is starting to pay off down the stretch.
Tie Harrison could be the wild card in this game. She has been known to provide offensive firepower at times. She and Huddleston should be fun to watch. Brown has been impressed by Harrison's rapid development as a player.
Jordan Price is another versatile arrow in Brown's quiver and Kelsey Huff helps bring muscle to the inside game. Megan Scott and Kelsey Clay could match Huddleston in the outside shooting department.
Minettes pick up win
Liberty earned its first victory of the season and did so with aplomb. The Minettes pasted Amherst by a score of 55-20. That the Lancers were held to such a paltry total is not news: Liberty has played fine defense all season long. The big story was the big total the Minettes put up against Amherst.
"We usually get plenty of shots," noted Liberty Head Coach Andrew Kelso. "They were falling for us this time."
Everyone seemed to get involved in the scoring parade, which was led by Jennifer Coleman's 12 points. Joy Thompson picked up 7 points, while Sarah Witt, Stephanie Chambers and Kari Cassell each nailed a half-dozen.
Thompson has been a nice surprise for the team. While Kelso knew that she was a solid defender and rebounder, the offensive production is a welcomed nuance.
Cassell showed her prowess as an outside shooter, pegging a pair of treys for her points.
Remarkably, the Minettes outscored Amherst 21-0 in the third quarter. "That's more points than we've scored in a quarter in some time," remarked Kelso.
In subsequent action, Liberty fell to Rustburg 33-26. Thompson and Stephanie Chambers led the Minettes with 5 points apiece. Liberty, which made a mere seven baskets for the evening, were plagued by their old foe, poor shooting. A new foe appears to be Rustburg's Glass girls, Shannon and Gabby, who teamed up for 20 points.
Having played Forest this past Tuesday, the Minettes host Lord Botetourt this Friday. On Monday, Jan. 21, they host Staunton River. That same Monday, Forest travels to always-dangerous Heritage.