Lady Jackets win back-to-back games
A two-win week has the North Augusta girls basketball team back over .500.
The Jackets (12-10, 7-1 Region 5-AAAA) took down South Aiken and White Knoll to control their destiny in the region.
“Last week, I think the (other) teams had done their homework and scouted the things that we like to do,” Crystal Cummings, North Augusta’s head coach, said. “I saw some different looks from the White Knoll and South Aiken teams that I didn’t see them do last time. It kind of took us by surprise at the very beginning, but we were able to make adjustments at halftime and came away with the victories. The White Knoll game wasn’t as close as the South Aiken game. White Knoll game, at halftime was 23-12, then we kind of opened it up in the second half and won 49-31. The South Aiken game, at half, was tied at 22. Again, you know, they played a 1-3-1 (zone defense), which we weren’t used to seeing from anyone but Dutch Fork. We weren’t ready to see South Aiken play that, we were expecting a man (defense) or 2-3 (zone defense). It kind of caught everyone by surprise for a minute and they lost it a little bit. After the halftime we came out and made the adjustments and ended up winning 44-38.”
In the coming week, the Jackets will face Aiken and Dutch Fork. North Augusta escaped with a 31-30 win in Aiken on Jan. 24.
“I think in the Aiken game we didn’t come out like we could have come out to start,” Cummings said. “We started a little bit slower than normal and missed a lot of shots in the first quarter. I hope to see an earlier start from my team, so it won’t be so close going into halftime. Aiken played us very well, I’m expecting the same thing, nothing less from their team. I think that, in the win – we only won by one point – my team will come out a little more aggressive. You know, you can kind of look at people’s records and say ‘They lost to this team and that team,’ but it doesn’t do anything for your mental game going in because you may be a little bit more relaxed than you should be. So, the one-point win is definitely an eye-opener. They’re a really, really good coached team and despite who they’ve won or lost against, we still have to play our game and come out as aggressive as we can.”
Mallory Stone, who scored 17 of the 31 points in the first match-up against Aiken, is looking for her teammates to get involved early and often in the next contest.
“I want to be more consistent and look to push in transition,” she said. “We need to get some easy baskets to get the lead up as much as we can. It all comes down to basketball IQ, when you know the game (passing) is easy. That’s how I’ll be able to get my teammates involved.”
Stone, the leading scorer for North Augusta, recently committed to play at South Carolina State next season.
“I finally made a decision and the best is yet to come,” she said on her decision. “I didn’t really have a final group, just South Carolina State.”
For Cummings, now is the time to utilize Stone’s talents to make a deep playoff run.
“Mallory is able to do whatever she wants to do, at any moment she can go on an 8-0 run,” she said. “We need her to realize that this is do-or-die time, her senior year. I need that Mallory Stone the entire game. If she does that, she’ll figure out ways to get open. A lot of teams have stopped pressing us, trying to take away our transition game to limit Mallory to the half court set. She’s very good in the half court set, she just has to have the mindset that we’re down 20, whether we’re down 20 or not. We need that from her because we’ve got two tough teams, in Dutch Fork and Aiken. They can take away some of the stuff she’s doing, but she’s multifaceted and can do it in multiple ways. That’s what we need from her.”
North Augusta’s game against Aiken, scheduled for Tuesday, has been postponed due to the threat of inclement weather. A make-up date was not known at press time. The Jackets will travel to Dutch Fork on Thursday.
T.J. Lundeen is a reporter for the North Augusta Star. Follow him on Twitter @lundeentj for more updates.