Dukes Trounce Central Girls In Old Gymnasium

Published 4:36 pm Tuesday, January 29, 2013

CUMBERLAND – A problem with the heating unit in the gymnasium at Cumberland High School, combined with last week's cold temperatures, forced Thursday night's girls game against Central of Lunenburg to be played down the hall at the remodeled Pride Dome.

The Dukes had no trouble turning up the heat against the Chargers in a 69-35 victory that helped stop a recent slide.

Maybe all the Dukes needed was a little Pride Dome magic. Though the crowd was rather sparse for the make-up game, things got quite loud, and CHS noticeably fed off the energy.

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“Maybe we need to play here every night,” said CHS head coach Omar Liggins, who recalled the glory days of Cumberland's basketball program when it was said that The Pride Dome was good for at least ten points for the home team. “I'm not big on superstitions, but it got really loud in here, and it really helped to give our girls a boost.

Cumberland, which had lost earlier in the year in Victoria, raced out to a 14-4 lead at the end of the first quarter. Akira Davenport scored seven of her 11 points in the first quarter, and helped the Dukes set the early tone.

Cumberland maintained the ten-point cushion for much of the half. Back-to-back buckets by Kamren Gilliam (a 15-foot jumper and a three-pointer) gave the Dukes a 27-15 lead with 3:02 left in the half.

Central chopped into the CHS lead down the stretch and trailed by nine points at 29-20 at the break.

Cumberland again started quickly in the second half, and began the third quarter with a 15-4 run to take a 44-24 lead midway through the period on an Ajah Smith layup.

Central standout Ranequah Smith scored two quick buckets, but Cumberland closed the period on a 7-2 run to lead 51-30 heading into the fourth.

Back-to-back three-pointers by Davenport in the first 30 seconds of the fourth period gave CHS a 57-30 lead, and put a game that really wasn't in doubt completely out of reach.

“This is Cumberland basketball,” said Liggins. “We have to play good defense and push the ball, and when we do like we did tonight, we get these kind of results.”

Liggins said that though Cumberland has gone through a rough patch, he could see it coming in a loss to Bluestone earlier in the week.

“We lost that game down there, but we really didn't play badly. I just kept stressing that if the girls continued to play that way, it would show up in a win, and to their credit, they kept fighting and tonight they got a good result. A really good result.”

Smith led the Dukes in scoring with 13 points on the night, while Gilliam had 12 and Ajah Smith and Davenport had 11 points apiece. Smith led all scorers with 15 points for the Chargers.

Cumberland's Friday night game against Goochland was postponed due to the wintry weather that moved across the region on Friday morning. The Dukes were scheduled to travel to Buckingham on Tuesday night, and will host James River District leader Amelia County on Friday.

The question for Friday night's game will be which gymnasium. Though it will likely be back in the spacious and new CHS Gymnasium, if it were up to Liggins, he knows where it would be.

“I'd want to play them all right here. It's hard to play flat when you have them behind you,” said Liggins, as he pointed to and thanked some lingering fans.