Lady Dukes' Run Ended By Clar's Hot-Shooting

Published 4:16 pm Thursday, February 23, 2012

CUMBERLAND – Whatever challenge Cumberland High School had for Stonewall Jackson in Wednesday night's Region B, Division 1 Quarterfinal, Jackson, and senior Ashlie Clar, had an answer. The Generals shook off a slow start to run away from the Lady Dukes in the second half with a 60-27 victory.

Every time Cumberland seemed to wrestle a little momentum away from the Generals, Clar scored on the other end.

For example, Stonewall Jackson held a 17-5 lead late in the first half, but after two quick Cumberland (18-6) transition baskets by freshman Annesha Harris cut the Generals' lead to eight points.

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Clar buried a three-pointer on the other end.

With Stonewall Jackson (17-5) leading 24-10 at the half, Clar answered what looked to be a momentum grabbing three-pointer on the first possession in the third quarter by Cumberland junior guard Akira Davenport.

“She is a good shooter,” said CHS head coach Omar Liggins. “If you give her any space, you may as well go ahead and give her two or three points.”

“I just happened to be open,” said Clar, a senior guard. “We just tried to get a good look, and whoever was open could take the shot. Tonight, we were able to respond when we needed a basket.”

“She's been doing that for us all season,” said Jackson head coach Jeff Burner. “In the league we play in, someone has to do this every night. We started slow. I expected a slow start, with it being a regional game and given the different intensity level. At first we couldn't throw it in the ocean, but once Ashely got going, the rest of the team did as well.”

A slow start may be an understatement. Both teams were held scoreless until the four-minute mark in the first quarter, when Stonewall Jackson senior forward Keyana Phelps scored on a lay-up. Baskets were still hard to come by. The first quarter ended with Jackson ahead 6-2.

“Another slow start,” said Liggins. “Once again. We've done that and have gotten away with it, but this was like Saturday [night's loss at Amelia]. Once a team like this gets you down, they know how to keep you down.”

Two short-range runners by Clar early in the second quarter jump-started the Generals. A 10-3 lead with 6:37 left in the first half, quickly turned into a 17-5 advantage with 2:32 left, as Stonewall Jackson senior guard Cassie Conley and Clar buried three-pointers.

“It shouldn't matter who scores the first bucket, but those two points set the tone for both teams. They jumped out to a 6-0 lead. We weren't able to recover, and they didn't look back.”

Ahead 27-16 with 5:40 left in the third quarter following a second three-pointer by Davenport, Jackson ended the period, and basically the game, with a 15-4 run to take a 42-20 lead into the fourth quarter. The Generals pushed their lead to 30 points on Clar's fifth and final three-pointer of the night with 5:24 remaining.

“They made us play their game,” said Liggins. “They played a disciplined man-to-man, but every time our guards tried to penetrate, it seemed like there were two or three players there to deny the ball.”

Clar was the only player from either team to reach double-figures in scoring. Her 29 points included five three-pointers.

“I think we were a little nervous at the start,” said Clar. “We're not familiar with this gym, but once we started to hit our shots, we got into a rhythm. It came so far into the game, I think [being the first team to score] helped to calm us down.”

For Cumberland, it's a bitter end to what was one of the better seasons in program history. Of the Lady Dukes' previous five losses, three were to JRD Regular Season and Tournament champion Amelia, two were to Group AA Fluvanna.

Cumberland loses five seniors, but only one starter, I-Mecka Anderson, to graduation.

“I have nothing but good things to say about this group of girls,” said Liggins. “Our season just ended in the Region B Tournament. We haven't gotten here enough for that to be more disappointing than it being a loss. These girls have never been in situations like they have this season, and for the most part, they handled them well.

“We'll start off next year's first practice by looking at this film like we would after any other game during the season. We want to build on things from here, and the way to move further into the postseason is to begin where we left off.”

Stonewall Jackson advances to the Region B, Division 1 Semifinals to be played on Friday at Eastern Mennonite University. The Generals will face a familiar foe in Shenandoah District rival Stuarts Draft. Stuarts Draft has beaten Stonewall Jackson both times in the regular-season.

Stonewall Jackson 6 18 18 18 – 60

Cumberland 2 8 10 7 – 27

Stonewall Jackson (17-5)

Clar 10 4-6 29, Conley 3 1-1 8, Phelps 2 3-4 7 Koontz 1 2-4 4, Jordan 1 1-1 3, Stout 1 1-1 3; Miller 1 0-0 2, Jett 1 0-0 2, Turner 1 0-0 2 Totals: 21 12-18 60

Cumberland (18-6)

Davenport 3 1-2 9, Anderson 2 2-6 6, Gilliam 2 0-0 4, Harris 2 0-0 4, Parker 1 0-4 2, Arbaugh 1 0-2 2 Totals: 11 3-14 27