By Garth Shanklin
The Williamsburg Lady Wildcats passed one of their tougher tests on the schedule on Thursday, Jan. 11, as the team defeated Bethel-Tate 59-38 to improve to 12-0 on the season.
Bethel-Tate dropped to 10-2 on the season, and saw a nine-game winning streak come to an end at the hands of the Lady Wildcats, who started out the game with a barrage of three-point shots.
The Lady Wildcats hit three triples in the first quarter, by three different players. Those shots helped push Williamsburg to a 13-9 lead after one period.
By the end of the game, Williamsburg would hit on seven three-point shots out of 15 attempts, something that Bethel-Tate head coach Dave Fallis said the Lady Tigers had worked on during practice throughout the week leading up to the game.
“That was frustrating,” Fallis said. “We worked on that all week long and right from the first quarter they got two open threes. We were rattled, we didn’t have the composure we usually do. We’ll have to work on a few things now, we’ll get better and we’ll get back out there.”
Williamsburg head coach Mike Madsen said the team has several players who can shoot the ball, making defend against the outside shot difficult for other teams to guard against.
“We hit some threes,” Madsen said. “It’s tough to rotate against four girls who can really shoot the ball. Someone’s going to be open, and when one of them gets hot, it’s fun to watch. When they pass the ball and move together, it’s fun to watch.”
“We switched up,” Madsen said. “We’ve played man against everyone all year, and everybody things that we’re a man-to-man team. We’ve taught the girls, [assistant coach] Mandy Irvin and I, focus on defensive rotations every day in the man. If you teach the man-to-man defense really well, when you do get into the zone…They’re flying out at people, they’re closing out well. They did everything that we talked about in practice the last three days. They really focused.”
Bethel-Tate also had trouble rebounding the basketball. The Lady Tigers surrendered 34 rebounds to the Lady Wildcats, something Fallis said the team has to improve on.
“We were a little out of sorts,” Fallis said. “We knew we had to be patient, we talked about it the last two weeks. We weren’t patient, we forced passes, and we didn’t rebound. They probably beat us 3-1 on the rebounding today. We have to get better.”
Of the 34 rebounds pulled down by Williamsburg, 11 belonged to freshman Paige Fisher, who came off the bench to make an impact on the glass while scoring six points.
“She was just dominant on the rebounds,” Madsen said. “She had some rebounds that were huge off free-throws. She gets put-backs. As a freshman, she’s come very far.”
Another key contributor for the Lady Wildcats was Camille McManus, who scored eight points in the game, including a pair of first-half three pointers that Madsen said were crucial to the team’s start.
“She set the tone for us,” Madsen said. “She hit a couple big threes, played great defense. She really went after the ball. She played really well.”
Jessica Chase led all scorers with 18. Alexis Chase added 15. Peyton Fisher tallied eight, while Emily Brown added three.
Even though the loss all but ends the Lady Tigers’ hopes at a Southern Buckeye Athletic and Academic Conference National Division title, Fallis said there are still plenty of goals left for his team to work toward.
“We still have two goals ahead of us,” Fallis said. “We can still win 20 games this season, that’s one of our goals. [It’d be] the first time in school history if we do. We can still win a sectional championship, and that’d be the fourth appearance in a sectional championship and that’s never happened in our program before.”
Fallis added it’s up to the players and their work ethic in practices to determine what the Lady Tigers will do from here out.
“We still have a lot to play for,” Fallis said. “It just depends on what we do in practice. Are we going to get better, put this behind us and move forward? I think we will.”
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Lady Wildcats from here. The team has four road games out of their next five, including one at a tough place to win on the road.
“East Clinton, at East Clinton, I don’t care what anyone says, that’s a tough game,” Madsen said. “They’re tough to beat in that gym. That’s a home-court advantage.”
In addition to the game against the Lady Astros, Williamsburg visited Western Brown on Jan. 16 in a game that was not completed before press time. The team visits East Clinton on Jan. 16, then hosts Lynchburg on Jan. 20.
Bethel-Tate, meanwhile, was scheduled to host Georgetown on Jan. 13 in a game that was postponed due to weather. The team is scheduled to return to action on Jan. 18 against Felicity before hosting Ripley on Jan. 20 in a non-league tilt.