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Baron girls break through to topple Amelia

South Boston News
Bluestone’s Alexis Walton drives the lane in the Lady Barons' game against Amelia. (Mike Moseley photo) / December 18, 2013

Sporting an early season record of 4-0, the Bluestone Lady Barons pulled off a major upset in the James River District on Friday night as they defeated the visiting Amelia County Lady Raiders, 53-52, in a game that was decided with less than three seconds left on the game clock.

The win was so big for the Lady Barons because it was the first time in four years Amelia had experienced a loss in district play.

But the game was no easy affair for the Lady Barons. It was as close as the score suggests — two points or less separated the teams at the end of each quarter.

During the first half of play, multiple turnovers hurt both teams. And though the score was close throughout, Amelia was dominating the Lady Barons in the paint — penetrating the lane almost at will from the top of the key.

Both teams played good perimeter defense, though, as there was only one three-pointer made the entire game — and that belonged to Amelia.

The score was tied at the end of the first quarter at 12-all. Alexis Walton, who led all scorers on the night with 21 points, had six points for the Baron girls in the period.

The Lady Barons jumped out to a 10-6 lead with around three minutes left in period behind the play of Walton and Essence Pulliam, whose four points were the direct result of some nice feeds from Walton and Diamond Watson.

Amelia momentarily took the lead at 12-10, but an awesome put-back by Kelsey Thornton before the buzzer knotted the score at 12.

Amelia stretched the lead out to 24-18 in the second period, but the Lady Barons worked their way back to take a one-point lead at 27-26 with under a minute left in the quarter.

But Amelia’s Teja Booker, who led her team on the night in scoring with 19 points, had a nice move to the basket for a deuce that gave the Raiders the one-point lead going into the half.

In the third quarter, both teams went out and scored 15 points. Bluestone was led by sophomore, Laurine Jordan with seven points. Jordan played a fairly balanced game on the night — working for the open shot, challenging for rebounds and playing some very physical defense in the painted area.

Booker posted nine of Amelia’s 15 points and during this period sunk the only three-pointer recorded on the night.

The fourth quarter saw Bluestone start out behind by one point, at 43-42. A four-point surge in the lead — 46-42 in favor of Amelia — was the largest margin of the quarter.

Bluestone had plenty of opportunities to put Amelia away in the final period but couldn’t seem to hit a foul shot to close the deal. Walton really shined in the frame, however. scoring seven of Bluestone’s 11 points — the last two coming on foul shots which she sank with under five seconds left in the game. The free throws gave the Lady Barons a one-point lead at 53-52.

With mere seconds remaining on the clock and behind by a point, Amelia stole the ball from Bluestone and went on the fast break, with Booker taking the pass. She went for the lay-up but the home court hoops provided some forgiveness and the eventual win for Bluestone as the ball landed on the front of the rim for what seemed like minutes before rolling off with 0.8 seconds left on the clock.

The Lady Barons went on to run out the clock and secure the monumental victory.

The win demonstrated that the Lady Barons, though young, are serious about being contenders in the 2A-East Conference 34 this season. Baron head coach Mike Camden said he, too, thought the win was not only exciting but also a great victory for the Lady Barons basketball program.

“We’ve been working hard for the last four years,” said Camden, referring to building the program. “We’re a very young team but a very strong program.”

The Bluestone starting five consists of three sophomores and two juniors. So far, the young mix is working.

The coach noted the early season successes are due to the amount of work the girls are putting in at the gym. “You know, the credit goes to the girls — they come in, they put in the hard work. I’m extremely proud of them — very proud of them tonight.”

As for the team’s play so far this season, Camden said he believes the girls are confident every time they step on the floor.

“We’re undefeated in the district and I go into every game thinking we’re going to win — until it’s zero left in the fourth quarter,” Camden added. “Like I said, though we’re a young team, we’re a very strong program and I think we’re one of the top teams in the district.

“And I think we’re going to be one of the toughest ones to beat,” he said.

First Quarter:

Following a couple trips up and down the floor, Walton opened the scoring for Bluestone. Booker got a basket for an early 2-2 tie.

Bluestone was having problems holding their feet and picked up three quick turnovers on traveling calls.

Walton dropped another basket and Takia Williams of Amelia answered with a deuce. Points by Walton and Pulliam got Bluestone out to a 10-6 lead.

Amelia responded with six straight points to take the lead at 12-10. Booker, Williams and Taylor Hawkins hit the baskets for the Raiders.

With only seconds left on the clock, Bluestone shot a jumper that missed, but Thornton was there to get the offensive put-back and tie the score at 12-12.

Second Quarter:

Walton got Bluestone out to a 14-12 lead in the opening minute of play. But Booker, Hawkins and Williams picked right up where they left off and dropped six straight points to take the 18-14 lead.

Walton got an offensive rebound and the deuce on a powerful stick-back. This was followed by Thornton drilling a shot for the 18-18 score.

The Lady Raiders jumped out to their largest lead of the night on the next three series of plays. Heather Weaver scored two for Amelia. Williams went to the line on a two-shot foul, dropped both and followed that with a nice jumper for the 24-18 lead.

Pulliam picked up her second foul around this time and would sit out most of the remainder of the quarter for Bluestone.

Jordan went to the line and hit one of two for Bluestone. Watson got a basket to get the Barons within three at 24-21.

Chynna Smith scored for Amelia on an interior move. Walton and Jordan collected back-to-back deuces. Jordan showed good strength during this stretch — battling on the blocks and in the paint, whether on offense or defense.

Thornton had another strong rebound and put-back for two, to put Bluestone up by one. But Williams popped a basket as the quarter ended to give Amelia the 28-27 halftime lead.

Third Quarter:

Amelia began the quarter with Booker and Hawkins hitting a shot each. Thornton and Walton answered with a couple of deuces.

Amelia added four points behind the shooting of Booker and Smith for the 36-31 lead. A basket by Thornton and a power move and shot, plus the foul for Jordan, tied the game at 36-all.

Watson followed with a two pointer for Bluestone. Booker responded with a bucket for the tie.

Jordan hit on a nice jumper in the lane and Booker followed up with a basket. Jordan scored again for Bluestone to give her team the lead at 42-41.

On the next trip down the court, Jordan was fouled and sent to the line for two but missed both. Amelia’s Destiny Hite hit a deuce to end the quarter and put the Raiders ahead 43-42.

Fourth Quarter:

The Lady Raiders got three quick points to open the quarter. Williams hit a deuce, was fouled and went to the line and scored the point off of a lane violation after missing the initial foul shot.

Jordan was fouled on a shot attempt but couldn’t connect at the line. Walton then went to the line for Bluestone and hit one of two.

Bluestone’s Jade Bake was fouled in the act of shooting but also went dry at the line. Pulliam followed up with a deuce the next trip down the court.

Booker scored, followed by a two-pointer by the Lady Barons’ Jade Banks. Booker knocked down another jumper and the Raider girls led 50-47.

Walton dropped two baskets to give the Lady Barons the 51-50 lead. Williams came right back and scored a deuce for the Raiders — Amelia led 52-51.

With under 10 seconds to go in the game and Bluestone holding possession, Walton was fouled went to the line and drained both shots for the 53-52 score.

Bluestone played great defense and got the ball back but Amelia stole the ball from the Lady Barons and had the perfect opportunity to win the game. But the fast break lay-up by Booker rolled off of the front of the rim and sealed Amelia’s fate.

The Lady Barons recorded only eight team fouls the entire, three in the first half and five in the second half of play. Amelia recorded four first half fouls and 10 second half fouls.

The Lady Barons have a busy week this week. Bluestone was scheduled to play Fuquay at home on Monday and Buckingham in a road game last night. The team will take on Nottoway Thursday at home to end its December schedule. Jayvee games start at 5:30 with varsity play following.

Team Scores:

Bluestone: Watson-4, Thompson-2, Jordan-10, Walton-21, Thornton-10 and Pulliam-6

Amelia: Booker-19, Hawkins-8, Williams-17, Weaver-2, Smith-4 and Hite-2

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