Behind what’s become the standard outstanding night from junior forward Sam Brunelle, the William Monroe girls basketball team survived a late charge from visiting Fluvanna 57-49 to remain undefeated through the first week of the season.
Brunelle poured in 39 points and hit four of six free throws down the stretch to put the game away. Monroe had frittered away a 15-point lead to allow Fluvanna back into it. The Flucos began to chip away after a basket from Monroe’s Iyanna Carey with three minutes to go.
“In this lineup, we have two freshmen, two sophomores and Sam,” Monroe head coach Jess Stafford said. “Those sophomores who were on the floor haven’t played varsity until this year. We grew up tonight and we grew up a lot. I wasn’t surprised by it, but I was happy the way we responded.
The Dragons took control with a 10-2 burst covering the latter half of the third quarter. Brunelle scored eight points in the run before Fluvanna took a timeout, a single-digit deficit suddenly ballooning to 46-31 after three.
The Flucos kept fighting in the fourth on the shoulders of point guard Neveah Ivory. Ivory hit a pair of threes and a floater in the lane as part of a 12-2 run to trim the Dragon lead to five. She led the Flucos with 17 points while Kyra Scott added 13. But the Dragons made just enough of their free throws down the stretch and Brunelle came up with a pair of huge steals in the paint on consecutive possessions to keep the Dragons in front.
“We don’t even look at the score,” Fluvanna head coach Chad White said. “It was a situation where we had to change it up and go with full-court pressure. Basketball is about runs, so we just decided to keep the intensity up and see what happens.”
The first half was tight, with no team leading by more than seven. Brunelle had all but one of her team’s baskets in the first quarter to stake the Dragons to a 17-11 lead after one. After Fluvanna trimmed it to four late in the second, she sunk a layup at the buzzer to give Monroe the momentum going into the break.
“Sam has improved her shot selection in a major way,” Stafford said. “She’s still working on it, but that’s something we talk about a lot. We watch it on film. We rate the shot one through five. Also, she can be unselfish almost to a fault.”
The quicker Flucos generated plenty of opportunities getting into the lane and drawing fouls, but were unable to capitalize on those chances at the line, going just 3-of-15 on free throws.
The Dragons will travel to Orange, a team it’s already beaten this season, next Tuesday. Fluvanna will travel to Waynesboro.