Midland Valley unable to keep up

Staff photo by Jeremy Timmerman
Midland Valley's Christen Dunbar (3) drives to the basket against the defense of Josey's Brianna Dubose.
Staff photo by Jeremy Timmerman Midland Valley's Christen Dunbar (3) drives to the basket against the defense of Josey's Brianna Dubose.

JOSEY (GA.) 56 MIDLAND VALLEY 40

GRANITEVILLE — The host Midland Valley's girls' basketball team kept things tight until halftime but ultimately weren't able to stay with Josey (Ga.) in a 56-40 loss in the Border Bash Tip-Off Invitational on Tuesday.

After trailing by seven at the end of the first quarter, the Lady Mustangs (1-2) trimmed that deficit to 24-19 at the break.

They had chances to make it even closer, but key areas of the offense were lacking in the loss. First and foremost, head coach Carl Prescott's squad struggled at the free-throw line, making only 8 of 24 attempts on the night.

Prescott said the charity stripe has not been friendly to his team leading up to the season.

“All summer, all scrimmage games – I think our first scrimmage game we missed 17 free throws. Our second scrimmage game, we missed 17 from the free-throw line and lost by two points,” he said.

The Lady Mustangs also were not able to capitalize on clean looks. In many cases, perimeter players like Gracie Gunter and Keielana Smith were able to get to the basket but missed the shot, or their pass to a post player wasn't handled cleanly.

“Well, we've just got to be more consistent,” Prescott said, noting the team was without starter Callaway Barron, who is hurt but will be back in a couple weeks. “We've got to work a little harder.”

After the break, the Lady Eagles (3-1) rode a 16-8 third quarter to put the game to rest. Sophomore forward Breanna Wilson scored 13 of her game-high 17 points after halftime to anchor the run.

“We had a breakdown in communication,” Prescott said of Wilson's surge. “We switched defenses a couple times, and we had a breakdown in communications on the switches. And that allowed her to be able to be open and catch the ball.”

Midland Valley was able to make up some ground late with a pressure defense that saw multiple players pick up steals and create baskets at the other end. One was senior forward Amber Abney, who led the Lady Mustangs with 14 points on the night.

Abney's presence is vital because she is one of only two seniors that played on Tuesday, as she and Erin Cunningham were surrounded by sophomores Gunter, Smith and Kieara Blocker, along with juniors Christen Dunbar and Janisha Prescott.

“It's going to be important for Amber to step up,” Prescott said, noting that the team as a whole needed conditioning work after getting winded a bit by Josey's high-speed attack. “Amber is a veteran on the team, but this is only her second year starting.”

Smith added nine points for Midland Valley, while Gunter and Dunbar had seven points each.

The Lady Mustangs will return to action on Tuesday at Wagener-Salley.

Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University and has been at the Aiken Standard since June 2010.

J 16 8 16 16 – 56

MV 9 10 8 13 – 40

Josey (3-1) — Dameya King 0 0-2 0, Takema Prince 0 0-2 0, Debbie Simmons 3 8-9 14, Janiah Williams 3 5-8 11, Breanna Wilson 8 1-2 17, Brianna Dubose 1 1-2 4, Iesha Manor 1 1-2 4, Helen Stitt 1 0-0 2, Jazmyne Scrivens 0 4-4 4. Totals 17 20-31 56.

3-pointers: Dubose, Manor.

Midland Valley (1-2) — Christen Dunbar 3 0-4 7, Gracie Gunter 3 0-2 7, Keielana Smith 2 5-8 9, Amber Abney 6 2-8 14, Kieara Blocker 1 1-2 3. Totals 15 8-24 40.

3-pointers: Dunbar, Gunter.

3-pointers: Dubose, Manor.

Midland Valley (1-2) — Christen Dunbar 3 0-4 7, Gracie Gunter 3 0-2 7, Keielana Smith 2 5-8 9, Amber Abney 6 2-8 14, Kieara Blocker 1 1-2 3. Totals 15 8-24 40.

3-pointers: Dunbar, Gunter.

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