Girls Nearly Upset Top-Seeded Whitfield

Brentwood players stood still during the National Anthem but never stopped moving during the ensuing game with Whitfield on Friday at Principia. (All photos by Steve Bowman)
Brentwood players stood still during the National Anthem but rarely stopped moving during the ensuing game with Whitfield on Wednesday at Principia. (All photos by Steve Bowman)

But season ends in semifinals of district tournament

 
By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit
email: bowmansj@sbcglobal.net

Imagine the story this would have been if Brentwood had held on to beat Whitfield in the semifinals of the Class 3 District 4 girls basketball tournament last Wednesday at Principia.

Sophia Rivera shoots in the first quarter.
Sophia Rivera shoots in the first quarter.

A week earlier, when the eight coaches in the district had met to decide how the teams would be seeded, they’d voted Whitfield No. 1 and Brentwood No. 4. So most of them didn’t think the Eagles could even hang with the Warriors.

And yet Brentwood not only hung with but at times dominated Whitfield for the first three quarters. They led by nine in the first quarter, by 12 in the second and by 11 in the third. Ahead by nine at halftime, BHS coach Chris Jones was looking at some excited faces in the locker room.

“Congratulations, we just played 16 hard minutes,” he told his players. “But it’s all about playing 32. You’ve got to go out like you’re down by nine, not like you’re up nine.”

Brentwood finally surrendered the lead in the final second of the third period and never regained it. They trailed by only four with a minute left, but Whitfield hit enough free throws to push the final score to 53-45.

Whitfield went on to destroy Burroughs by 18 points in the district championship game. That must make some Brentwood fans wonder just how close the Eagles veered to their first district title in years. They finished the season with a record of 21-4, including 8-0 in the conference, and they did it mostly with underclassmen.

Senior Air'shay Lampkin (left) consoles freshman Nija Price in the locker room after the game.
Senior Air’shay Lampkin (left) consoles freshman Nija Price in the locker room after the game.

In the locker room after the game, senior Air’shay Lampkin consoled freshman Nija Price, who had led BHS in scoring and steals.

Said Lampkin, “I just told her, ‘You’re not losing too many people. Me and Tiffany [Anthony] are the only ones who’ll be gone. You’re still going to be a big part of the team, so work hard in the off season and do what you’ve got to do. Keep your head up, this is not the end.”

But it was the end of high school basketball for Lampkin and Anthony.

“It’s really sad because I’ve been in this program for four years,” said Lampkin. “I was a freshman in Coach Jones’s first year. It’s sad that it’s coming to the end.”

Said Anthony, “I’ve been in the program for three years. I thought we had it but I guess our defense wasn’t good enough. We got tired.”

But Jones thinks both teams were tired.

“I think about the missed shots we had,” he said. “Several missed layups, several missed put-backs. So there’s 10 points right there. Good teams don’t miss stuff like that; we do. It’s just about the mental toughness and experience.”

Head coach Chris Jones directs Marshelle Franklin in the first period.
Head coach Chris Jones directs Marshelle Franklin in the first period.

Epic first half

Tiffany Anthony (left) and Kate Sescleifer wait for the whistle.
Tiffany Anthony (left) and Kate Sescleifer wait for the whistle.

Price and Marshelle Franklin hit back-to-back three-pointers late in the first quarter for a nine-point lead. Brentwood pushed the advantage to 12 with 6:15 left in the second quarter and was up by nine at halftime.

Price and Sophia Rivera led the way in the first half. Price made three three-pointers and had 15 points, four rebounds and three steals. Rivera blocked three shots and had three rebounds. Neither was in foul trouble.

“At halftime I was excited,” said Lampkin. “I said, ‘We can take this game.’”

Said Anthony, “I thought we had it.”

“It was great,” said Jones. “We executed our game plan, which was to shut down Taylor Lawson-Hicks and Kate Sescliefer. I wasn’t as concerned about Taylor because I knew Abby [Harper] could do a good job on her.”

He added, “In the first half we switched from a box-and-one to a triangle-and-two and I think we did a pretty good job at it.”

Air'shay Lampkin (right) puts the heat on Jessica Scales of Whitfield.
Air’shay Lampkin (right) puts the heat on Jessica Scales of Whitfield in the fourth period.

Third-quarter comeback

The Eagles led by 11 early in the second half before the Warriors pieced together a 14-2 run to take the lead as time ran out in the third period.

“We got up by 11 or 12 in the second half but then they started chipping away,” Jones said. “It wasn’t all at once, where you can stop the slide. You could just feel the momentum slowly shift.”

Caroline Snare got the rebound from her own missed free throw and scored to draw to within three points with 1:45 left in the game. After Whitfield scored, Rivera grabbed an offensive rebound and sank a short shot to cut the margin to four with a minute left. But with time running out, the Warriors sank free throws from intentional fouls to keep BHS at bay.

Caroline Snare (left) keeps the ball away from Kate Sescleifer.
Caroline Snare (left) keeps the ball away from Kate Sescleifer.

Price ended up with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 10 steals. Rivera had 14 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocks. Franklin contributed seven points and five steals. As a team, BHS made 19 steals and 12 blocks, but didn’t help itself in committing 19 turnovers and shooting 40 percent from the field.

Nija Price flies in for a layup in the first period.
Nija Price flies in for a layup in the first period, when she scored eight of her 15 first-half points.

BHS’s final record: 21-4, 8-0 in conference
Dec. 8: won vs. McKinley 60-25
Dec. 10: won vs. Lift for Life 53-43
Dec. 12: won vs. Carnahan 83-29
Jan. 5: won vs. Soldan 54-22 at Burroughs Invitational
Jan. 7: won vs. Roosevelt 63-31 at Burroughs Invitational
Jan. 9: lost to John Burroughs 45-30 at Burroughs Invitational
Jan. 12: lost at Clayton 55-30
Jan. 13: won vs. Crossroads 52-25
Jan. 14: won at Trinity 64-33
Jan. 16: lost at Villa Duchesne 61-55
Jan. 20: won vs. MRH 77-53
Jan. 21: won vs. Normandy 52-16
Jan. 23: won vs. Hancock 70-37
Jan. 26: won vs. University City 62-55
Jan. 27: won at Bayless 60-30
Jan. 30: won vs. Valley Park 50-25
Feb. 2: won at JFK 48-34
Feb. 3: won at Crossroads 46-22
Feb. 10: won at Hancock 87-38
Feb. 11: won forfeit over Northwest Academy
Feb. 13: won vs. Bayless 60-35
Feb. 17: won at Valley Park 61-21
Feb. 18: won vs. Orchard Farm 62-35
Class 3, District 4 tournament at Principia
Feb. 23: won vs. John F. Kennedy 44-36
Feb. 25: lost vs. Whitfield 53-45

Marshelle Franklin dribbles past Catalina Cuevas of Whitfield in the first period.
Marshelle Franklin dribbles past Catalina Cuevas of Whitfield in the first period.

District tournament seeding
1. Whitfield
2. John Burroughs
3. Principia
4. Brentwood
5. John F. Kennedy
6. MRH
7. Valley Park
8. Cleveland NJROTC

Kim Strege of Whitfield is pressed by Sophia Rivera (left) and Tiffany Anthony.
Kim Strege of Whitfield is pressed by Sophia Rivera (left) and Tiffany Anthony.
Abby Harper shoots a long jumper in the first quarter.
Abby Harper shoots a long jumper in the first quarter.
Nija Price scores over Whitfield's Kelsey Chadwick (left) and Taylor Lawson-Hicks.
Nija Price shoots over Whitfield’s Pamela Zuluaga (left) as Taylor Lawson-Hicks watches.
Sophia Rivera (right) challenges Whitfield's Taylor Lawson-Hicks.
Sophia Rivera (right) challenges Whitfield’s Taylor Lawson-Hicks.
Marshelle Franklin tries to steal the ball from Kate Sescleifer.
Marshelle Franklin tries to steal the ball from Kate Sescleifer.
Abby Harper waits for the play to develop.
Abby Harper waits for the play to develop.
Caroline Snare banks one in during the fourth period.
Caroline Snare banks one in during the fourth period.

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