Western Albemarle got a big defensive stop when it needed one and held Stuarts Draft scoreless throughout overtime in a 58-48 win over the Cougars in the third annual Play For Preemies Showcase in Crozet on Saturday night.
Tied at 48-48 with 15 seconds to go, Draft had the ball in the frontcourt and had just gotten a three from McKinley Fitzgerald on its previous possession. But the Warrior defense didn’t allow the Cougars to get a shot off before the horn sounded, forcing the extra session in the final game of the Play for Preemies Showcase.
Western got baskets on its first two possessions of overtime and didn’t look back, sealing the game at the free throw line in the final minute.
“We guarded the dribble a lot better in overtime,” Western coach Kris Wright said. “Draft did a really good job of breaking us down off the dribble, they have a lot of good shooters who made threes tonight. They definitely challenged us, but I thought we cleaned up a lot in halftime.”
Following Fitzgerald’s three, the Warriors tied it when Sydney Sherman made one of two free throws following an offensive rebound–one of seven for Western on the evening. It capped a tense fourth quarter in which Western made up a four-point deficit.
Western jumped out to an early lead before the Cougars closed the first quarter on a 7-0 spurt to take a 13-10 lead after one quarter, with Fitzgerald swishing a trey just before the horn. Three-pointers from Western’s Elisabeth Coffman and Kaylyn Pelletier countered two more from Fitzgerald in the second as the teams went into the locker room knotted at 24.
Coffman, who had nine in the first half, was held scoreless for the entire second half before scoring four in overtime for the Warriors. Sherman led Western with 16 as well as five rebounds while Annie Meenan added 15, 13 of them coming after halftime as Western looked for other options with Coffman well-defended.
“We went to our other seniors,” Wright said. “I told Annie ‘we’re coming through you. Take care of the ball, make good decisions.’ She did a great job with that and we made them go to a zone because of it.”
Similarly, Wright’s defense clamped down on Fitzgerald, whose trey in the final minute of the fourth was her only field goal after the break. She led Stuarts Draft with a game-high 18 points while point guard Lyndsay Harris added 11 and Maggie Sorrells nine for the Cougars.