Both teams got out to slow starts before the Raiders picked up steam in the middle quarters, then held off a late surge by the Eagles.
Final score –
Loudoun County Raiders (16-2, 6-1) 8 13 15 10 = 46
Freedom Eagles (14-3, 5-0) 8 4 10 13 = 35
Loudoun County scorers –
Points: Natalie Villaflor 15, Emily Miller 14, Julia Ng 8, Anhai Allen 5, Cammie Warter 3, Morgann Harden 1
Three-pointers: Ng 2, Allen 1, Warter 1
Free throws: Miller 6-10, Villaflor 5-6, Allen 2-2, Harden 0-1
Freedom scorers –
Points: Jaelyn Batts 20, Sydney Kim 8, Rose Burnham 4, Shayna Wolin 3
Three-pointers: Walin 1
Free throws: Batts 0-1, Autumn Peterson 0-2
Freedom High School, South Riding, Va. (January 23, 2017) — Call it the Monday doldrums. The coaches did.
For two teams coming in with a combined record of 30-4, neither exactly played like world-beaters – and that’s not me editorializing. Everybody I talked to said so.
“This was not going to be a masterpiece oil painting. It was going to be an ugly, grind-it-out sort of game,” said Loudoun County head coach Derek Fisher. “Neither team played really well tonight, overall. Both teams are better than they showed.”
“We just didn’t execute because we were being lazy tonight,” said Freedom head coach Teddy Whitney. “We got out of our gameplan.”
“I don’t think either of us played to our full potential,” opined the Raiders’ veteran point guard Emily Miller – one of the few apparently immune to the lay-off malaise, judging by the way she filled up the stat sheet.
There were plenty of good parts, of course – especially for the Raiders of Loudoun County High School, who turned a tie game after one into a nine-point lead after two.
The rest of the way, County maintained an advantage between six and 14 to secure the 11-point triumph over the Eagles of Freedom High School.
It’s the sort of non-conference road test versus a capable opponent that serves as preparatory for the impending postseason…just two weeks away.
Still, this was the sort of disjointed, flowless game that both teams will be glad to get out of the systems. Turnovers and quick shots were the order of the day – though that’s not what either coach ordered.
It got slow fast. County didn’t release its first shot toward the basket until the contest was two-and-a-half minutes old, but the Eagles themselves only had four points by then.
That was the start of an 8-0 Raider run keyed by a Cammie Warter three-pointer from the right baseline. But the Eagles and their ever-active, smooth-moving sophomore Jaelyn Batts came up with a quick four to deadlock matters heading into round two.
It would be the last time the game was tied.
County’s Julia Ng nailed a quick three followed by a run-out layup off a turnover, then Anhai Allen connected from beyond the arc for a sudden 8-0 run. Meanwhile, the Freedom offense struggled to bring the ball up, let alone get settled into half-court sets.
The nine-point advantage the Raiders carried into intermission grew into double-digits early in the third as Ng again found the range from deep.
Miller, who in December signed her letter-of-intent to play basketball for Davis & Elkins College next year, turned on the jets and played like a woman possessed, lashing to the basket for hoops or harm and sticking her nose in the paint for defensive rebounds.
“She was fabulous tonight,” praised Fisher of Miller. “It’s the latter part of her senior year, and she’s really become a coach on the floor. She’s suggesting adjustments, making good calls, leading her team.”
Miller collected a team-high eight rebounds, most in the second half and most igniting fast breaks.
“I figured that because they were so big, I really had to get into the paint and do some work down there,” said Miller.
But Freedom hadn’t been vanquished yet. The worn-out clichés of basketball-is-a-game-of-runs and every-team-has-a-run-in-them showed why they’re so danged warn-out.
A spate of County turnovers in the fourth quarter helped the Eagles edge to 41-35, thanks to driving layups by Batts, pull-up jumpers by senior point guard Sydney Kim and a key three off the right hand of Shayna Wolin. For the first time, the home crowd got loud.
But that was the last point Freedom scored, and the Raiders hit some free throws to salt away the win – a good feeling just three days after County fell at home to an upstart Park View squad.
“We don’t get too excited about January,” Fisher said. “But it was good for us to bounce back from a tough game Friday and show that we had more than one way to play.”
Batts turned in a solid overall effort with five rebounds and four blocked shots. But the Eagles only took three foul shots, and none before the final quarter.
“If we don’t attack, [free throws] aren’t going to happen,” Whitney said. “Jaelyn played hard, but we rely on her a little too much. She needs more help.”
It’s right back to work for the Eagles, as they host Patriot on Tuesday in another non-conference affair before a pair of road games to complete the regular season. The Raiders have four more on the sked, starting with a visit from Rock Ridge on Thursday.
For the near futures of both sides, there will undoubtedly be better days ahead – and more candidate ballgames for Viva Loudoun’s Hottest Hoops Of The Week.
VivaLoudoun: We Live For Loudoun™
Written by Jason S Rufner
for Viva Loudoun Media Communications