Thursday, February 6, 2014
For head coach Crystal Cummings this week brought a mixed bag.
In an emotional win over Dutch Fork, her North Augusta girls picked up a 48-46 win. Though the score may not be that eye-catching, it was the way the team won that led to a celebration on their home court.
North Augusta (9-10, 4-1 Region 5-AAAA) led for much of the game, but the Silver Foxes would not go away and kept chipping at the Jackets’ lead. Dutch Fork would go on a late run in the fourth quarter and tie the game with just a handful of seconds remaining.
On an inbound pass, Dutch Fork collapsed on Mallory Stone – for good reason. Stone, as she has done for much of the year, led the team in scoring and had 15 points on the night. As Stone took the ball up the court, she was surrounded by four Silver Foxes, and with 1.4 seconds remaining, she made a pass to a wide open Breanna Hightower under the net. Hightower, who hadn’t scored the entire night, got the easy layup as the clock expired.
“It was a great feeling, and I had to take a moment to take it all in myself,” Cummings said. “That was one of the biggest wins of my career that I’ve had over the past two years.”
Even reflecting on the game on Sunday evening, Cummings said she still couldn’t put into words just what it felt like to get a win against Dutch Fork. The Jackets were also boosted by key contributions from Cydney Mathews, who had 14, with 10 coming in her team’s 14-point third quarter, along with Ja’Lyn Sanders, who had 13.
Following such an exciting win, the trip to Lexington the next day had the makings for a trap game. It turned out to be just that, as the Jackets suffered their first region loss of the year.
Lexington sent North Augusta’s overall record back below .500 with a 51-41 win. Sanders led the way for the team, with 19 points, and Stone had eight.
“I always preach never coming out like you have the game in the bag,” Cummings said. “It may have just been the emotional win the night before and playing back-to-back. I just don’t think they were ready to play. I don’t think they underestimated Lexington; I just think they overestimated themselves.”
Despite the loss, North Augusta is still in control of its own destiny, according to Cummings. Should the team win out, which will start with a home game on what was to have happened against White Knoll on Tuesday, the team will also head to South Aiken on Friday night.
“We try to keep doing what we’ve been doing, no need to change anything because it has worked so far – with the exception of the Lexington game,” she said. “You just want to keep telling them that it’s their season, their region and theirs to lose. I think they kind of know that, but hopefully the Lexington game was a wake up call. That will let them know to keep up the intensity, and the loss is a reminder of what I’ve been saying, to not let up on anyone.”
Scott Rodgers is the news editor at the North Augusta Star and has been with the paper since January 2013 after previously working at the Aiken Standard. Follow him on Twitter @NAStarRodgers.