By Drew Goodman / Scrimmageplaycva.com contributor
Having seen Charlottesville three times this season, including twice in the past week, the seventh-seeded Louisa Lions knew exactly what to expect in Friday’s Jefferson District Quarterfinal.
Knowing full well that the Knights are deadly off of the dribble, Louisa came out in a 2-3 zone in order to keep the home team out of the lane and off of the scoreboard.
The plan worked, for about 20 minutes of play.
Thanks to some excellent ball movement and some timely steals, Charlottesville was able to turn a two-point halftime lead into a decisive 60-43 win over Louisa.
Leading by two at the break and just five midway through the third quarter, the Lady Knights hit LCHS with an 18-1 run over a seven-minute stretch.
Charlottesville looked long and hard for a way to get the ball inside, and they found their answer in the form of reserve guard Jessica Antwi. In the face of a stingy 2-3 zone and an illness that she was battling all night, Antwi 10 of her team-best 16 points in the third quarter, all of which coming inside the lane.
Fellow sophomores Kasey Lamb and Andrea Lefkowtiz took turns being the zone-busters inside the free throw line, and Antwi was right there too for the easy bucket inside of the 2-3.
“I feel like we just needed to take our time. We were just trying to speed up the tempo too much and that lends to too many turnovers,” Antwi said. “I feel like we just needed to keep it calm.”
Friday’s quarterfinal win capped off a big week for Antwi, who dropped a total of 57 points over the past three games. Antwi co-led the Knights in scoring on Monday against Louisa and held the scoring title herself in the last two contests.
She jump-started the big offensive surge between the third and fourth quarters with back-to-back points inside the paint.
Antwi was the primary offensive catalyst in the third quarter, but the sophomore had plenty of help during the back-breaking 18-1 run that stretched into the fourth.
Six different Knights scored during the surge, including LaKasia Calloway, who’s three-point play put Charlottesville ahead by double digits for good.
Calloway dropped 14 points on the evening, while junior guard Camiyah Brown turned in eight.
As tough as the Louisa zone was in the first half, Charlottesville’s ball movement in the second was that much better, which led to a bevy of easy buckets for the Knights in the third quarter.
“I thought the interior passing was really good during that stretch,” Daly said. “Whether it was Andrea Lefkowitz, Kasey Lamb or T.C. Younger, they did a really good job of flashing to open spots and then being really unselfish and creating shots for [Antwi].”
The Lions shook off an early 10-4 deficit and eventually pulled to within three, before Calloway beat the first quarter buzzer with a triple.
Calloway’s triple could have been a momentum killer for the visitors, but Alexis Chapman responded with a three-point play on Louisa’s first possession of the second quarter.
The big-time bucket, plus a foul, jump started a 7-2 run, that saw the Lions grab their only lead of the ballgame. Alexis Miller knocked down a triple from the left-hand side to put Louisa ahead 20-18.
The excitement was short-lived, however, as the Knights quickly responded with a 6-0 run to regain the lead just before halftime.
Miller scored Louisa’s first eight points of the game and led the Lions with 16 points. The junior managed just five points in the second half, but Lydia Wilson picked up the slack, notching eight of her 12 points in the final two quarters.
CHS battled fatigue as well as the 2-3 zone when they were on offense in the first half. Playing in their third game in five days, the Black Knights were not able to get their brand of transition basketball going in the game’s first 16 minutes.
Once they did, however, the floodgates opened, and the Black Knights once again resembled the team that finished second in the Jefferson District.
“Our depth and pressing is not going to show up in the first four minutes,” Daly said. “This time of year, everyone’s played 22 games, and everyone knows how to break a press, so we just had to hold our heads and keep playing hard and know that it’ll eventually turn our way.”
Charlottesville will host Fluvanna in the Jefferson District Semifinals on Monday night.