Lady Dukes Hold Off Buckingham

Published 3:48 pm Thursday, February 2, 2012

CUMBERLAND – By the time February rolls around, teams don't take well to getting thrown out of the rhythm they've established.

Then, there's Senior Night. A night when starting lineups tend to be shaken up – especially on a young roster.

The Cumberland High School girls basketball team's senior night against Buckingham County proved to be a success in the end – a 47-36 victory over the visiting Lady Knights on Tuesday night, but it didn't come easily.

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“It's typical of Senior Night,” said CHS head coach Omar Liggins. “We started all of our seniors, which took us out of our routine. It's not that there's necessarily a drop in talent level, but everyone gets jacked up with the pregame ceremony, and then the lineup is switched. You can get so pumped up that you're no longer ready.

“I still have to credit Buckingham though. They were ready to play tonight and took advantage of our sluggishness.”

Buckingham kept pace with Cumberland for much of the night. The Lady Dukes led by just one point, 17-16 at the intermission.

“We played well without her in that second quarter,” said BCHS head coach Ethan Abruzzo. “We really played them well for at least three-quarters of the game, but that one quarter that we didn't play so well cost us tonight.”

Abruzzo referred to a run by Cumberland early in the third quarter. The Lady Dukes scored the first nine points of the period to take a 26-16 lead with 5:36 left to play in the third on a steal and layup by CHS freshman Annesha Harris.

That stretch gave the Lady Dukes their first multiple-possesson lead of the game. Buckingham ended its drought on an Elynn Lee three pointer, and was just down by four points at 27-23 with 3:19 left in the third after a basket by Robin Davis, but Cumberland closed the quarter on an 8-4 run to take a 35-27 advantage into the fourth.

“That third quarter got us,” said Abruzzo. “We really worked on not allowing Cumberland to get into their transition game, and it worked for most of the night, but it doesn't take much for them to put on a quick run and take control of the game.”

“We started to roll a little in the second half,” said Liggons. “It took us a while, but when we were able to force the tempo, we did quite well. Buckingham is always going to play teams tough, and they do so even more when they're playing us.”

Cumberland a took 12-pont lead at 39-27 on a jumper by Akira Davenport with 6:27 remaining. Buckingham slowly chipped away the Lady Dukes, but a short spurt with under two minutes remaining pushed Cumberland's lead back into double-digits. A layup by I-Mecka Anderson late in the contest gave the Lady Dukes their biggest lead of the night at 47-32.

“Sometimes, the girls don't know how to keep their composure,” said Liggons, not referring to behavior, but more to knowing when to force a run and when to slow the tempo. “These girls have never really been in this position at 13-3. It's not a bad problem to have, but it shows that we still have some things to learn.”

Lee led the Lady Knights with 12 points on the evening, while Davis added eight.

Anderson led Cumberland with 12 points, while Rachel Jackson and Kamren Gilliam scored 11 points apiece and Harris added nine.

Cumberland was scheduled to travel to Amelia on Friday night. The Lady Dukes lost to Amelia earlier in the season in Cumberland. They know their work will be cut out for them if they have hope of pulling back even in the race for the JRD Championship.

“That Amelia game is a good example of what I was talking about. But I know if we come in focused and go down there knowing that we can win, we're certainly capable.

“I knew we would be better this year, but I really didn't think we'd be at this point. We're enjoying this, and by winning, it makes the girls want to work even harder every day.”

Buckingham was scheduled to host Goochland on Friday.

“We still have some games that if we win, we can climb a couple of spots in the district standings,” said Abruzzo. “If we approach those games like we did the one tonight, we might be able to finish strong and improve our seeding for the district tournament.”