In a game where the free throws were anything but for both sides in regulation, the Fluvanna County girls basketball team got hot at the right time. On the road at Charlottesville in overtime, the Flucos were up by one when a foul followed by a technical foul followed by even more fould opened up a window. Fluvanna’s Mya Wright and Jules Shephard got into a groove. The two combined to hit six of eight from the line down the stretch to secure a 68-61 win, the first for the Flucos over the Black Knights since
“The first thing (coming back after the first half) was just beating the press,” said Fluvanna coach Chad White. “We knew if we could consistently beat the press we knew we could have a chance in the game, even when they stretched the lead.”
After an early back-and-forth, Charlottesville was able to turn an early 5-point lead into a 17-9 lead with just over two minutes to play behind the offense of junior TC Younger and sophomore Andrea Leftowitz. The Black Knights went into the second ahead 21-9 and from there things were tough offensively for both sides. Charlottesville’s defense was able to force a slew of Fluvanna turnovers, but that advantage was slightly squandered with a tough showing at the free throw line and the Black Knights won the frame just 8-7 despite dominating the possession battle.
Fluvanna trimmed the lead to 29-23 on back-to-back baskets underneath from 22 and Mya Wright followed by a Nevaeh Ivory 3-pointer to complete the 7-0 run with 5:35 left the in the third. Charlottesville’s Jessica Antwi was able to hit a free throw to stop the bleeding momentarily, but Ivory scored the next five points for the Flucos to make it 30-28 just under midway through the frame.
“I told them it’s a long game and that we just had to pick up on the defensive end and hope that (Charlottesville) would start missing some of those three’s,” White said. “We switched to man because our zone wasn’t working.”
That woke up Charlottesville. The Black Knights toughed their way through the run without burning a timeout and then got an 8-0 run with a bucket from Antwi and three straight from Younger on fast breaks to reclaim a double digit lead at 38-28 in just two minutes of game play.
True to form, Fluvanna answered with baskets from Wright, Ivory and Jules Shepherd on back-to-back-to-back possessions and the Charlottesville lead was back down to four with 1:35 left in the frame. That would be the margin heading into the fourth at 40-36. To start the fourth, Fluvanna made it a 1-possession game for the first time since the first quarter on a finish underneath from Shepherd.
“Jules Shepherd helped a lot when she drove to the basket,” Wright said. “I tried to help lead my teammates there, telling them we had to work hard and come up with defensive stops.”
A free throw from Ivory made it a 1-point game with 6:50 to play. Just 20 seconds later the junior then came up with an and-1 to put Fluvanna up 42-40. A pair of free throws from NeVaeh Bishop put the Flucos up 44-40 at the six minute mark. Ivory drilled a 3-pointer with 5:07 to go out of a Charlottesville timeout to keep the momentum going. The Black Knights got their first points of the fourth on a pair of free throws from Antwi to make it a 5-point game with five minutes left. The challenge for Charlottesville got tougher with Antwi fouling out on the following Fluvanna possession.
Then it rained three’s. Black Knights got a huge 3-pointer from Tatiana Allen Taylor with 3:17 to play to cut it to 49-47. Fluvanna answered with a trey from Shepherd only to have Allen-Taylor hit another to make it 51-50. The Flucos went up 52-50 with 2:00 to play on an Ivory free throw. After the Flucos missed four straight free throws, TC Younger came up with a fastbreak bucket to tie things up at 52-52 with 1:33 on the clock.
A free throw from Calloway put Charlottesville up by one with 1:26. Calloway came up with a steal, but Ivory then quickly did the same for the Flucos but was injured on the following defensie play.
“When Nevaeh went down we talked about keeping our composure and being strong with the ball,” White said. “It was the same situational stuff we’ve worked on in practice all the time.”
Younger went to the line with 1:12 left and made it 54-52 only to come up with a block on the other end of the floor. A steal and finish from Shepherd tied it up at 54-54 with 40 seconds. Charlottesville got one last good look at the basket to wrap up the win but it rimmed out and things went to overtime.
“I was proud of the starting five and the four who were out there scrapping hard,” said Black Knights coach Jim Daly. “We’ll get healthy and learn from it and hopefully we’ll be better in January than we’ve been in December.”
In overtime the Flucos went up 60-56 in the first minute despite playing without Ivory. Khamare Steppe and Shepherd picked up the slack in that stretch, but a deep three from Taylor Ward made it 60-59. That would be Charlottesville’s final field goal though. The big turn in OT came when Charlottesville was hit with a foul followed by a technical foul with 54.6 seconds.
“The whistles were blowing (going into overtime) and so I told them, ‘hey, this is a good thing,’” White said. “Now any loose ball was going to be a foul so if we could get near them we could knock down some free throws and be in good shape.”
Wright stepped up and hit two free throws, then Shephard hit the following pair to make it a 5-point advantage. The Fluvanna defense and more free throws from Wright and Shephard was more than enough down to the stretch to wrap up the last minute of the game and the win.
“I was under a lot of pressure to make those but my coach believes in me to make them,” Wright said.
Ivory led all scorers with 23 points. Shepherd had 13 points while Bishop and Wright each had nine. Steppe finished with 11 points to go with a huge night in the paint with 18 rebounds and four blocks.
For Charlottesville, Younger led the way with 20 points. Antwi had 13. Johnson added 10 and Allen finished with nine.
“We’ve just got to learn to adjust and avoid the silly fouls so that when the calls don’t go our way later in the game it’s not as devastating,” Daly said. “Hopefully this is the kind of L that’s a lesson and not just a loss. But that’s up to us.”
Fluvanna heads into its winter break and will open up January with a big showdown with Western Albemarle. Charlottesville faces Liberty Christian on Thursday before playing in the Holiday Classic starting Decemeber 27.