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Raider girls rally for 55-42 victory

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Raider girls rally for 55-42 victory

This year marks the second straight season that the Battlefield varsity girls basketball team has made it to the Northwest Regional tournament.
Friday night, however, also marked ninth year in a row the Bobcats lost out against Stonewall Jackson before the start of regions as the Raiders defeated the Bobcats 55 to 42 in the Cedar Run District tournament championship in Manassas.
Battlefield and Stonewall played mostly even during the first quarter, with the Raiders holding a slim 12 to 9 advantage, due in part to Battlefield sophomore Misha Jones sinking two 3-pointers.
Martinez mentioned that Stonewall did not key-in on Jones during the beginning of the game but opted to box her in during the second quarter.
The results showed as the Raiders limited the Bobcats to just one field goal during the entire period before half time, outscoring Battlefield 19 to 5.
"We abused the mismatches, basically," said Stonewall shooting guard Rachel Burns.
Stonewall's star power forward Nicole Floyd sank four jump shots, including one after rebounding the ball at the other end of the court and then marching it unassisted the length of the floor to the other hoop.
Overall, Floyd ended up with a game-high 18 points, putting her as one of three Raiders to break into double figures scoring.
"She's able to control herself," said senior guard Taylor Character, who finished second on the team with 14 points.
Burns contributed 10 points on the night, senior guard Amanda Hinton put up seven and sophomore guard Sydney Jordan scored six.
Battlefield's points came from six members. Jones led with 13 followed by senior guard Jessi Whaley (eight), freshman forward Nikki Dyson (six), freshman guard Taylor Baltimore (six), sophomore guard Elisia Diggs (five) and junior guard Natalie Salter (four).
During the third quarter, Battlefield outscored Stonewall by eight points as Martinez opted to have her players set up their defense around the arc instead of press Battlefield on inbound passes.
"When we have players in foul trouble, we pull out of our full-court defense," explained the coach.
She added that her team is "not going to be able to rely on a press" alone to win games during the state tournament, so it's best to formulate its standard defense now during the early part of the post-season.
"I feel like our momentum slowed up and Battlefield came out with a different defense" in the third quarter, said Burns.
According to Whaley, one of the assistant coaches lit into the team during half time and helped convince the girls that, even down by 15, they still had a chance to salvage the game.
It reinforced Whaley's own message prior to the match, during which the team's lone senior said she told her teammates that "we had worked so hard to get where we are now and we can't blow it."
Baltimore added that knowing "we have a senior that has never won a district" title before meant that the Bobcats "wanted it for her but (also) the whole team" too.
After Character sank a bank shot to open the second half, Battlefield limited Stonewall to only four points the rest of the third quarter.
Meanwhile, Dyson, Diggs and Jones each hit multiple shots from the floor, including a swished 3-pointer from Diggs seconds before the end of the quarter, to close the gap to 37 to 28.
Baltimore assisted Whaley on a hoop 10 seconds into the fourth quarter and the senior later hit two free throws.
By that point, Battlefield had amounted a 20 to four run and the score stood at 37 to 34.
Stonewall, however, is only going to be outscored in any game for so long before reverting back to character.
Both teams traded hoops and a bucket by Baltimore after she spun and weaved through traffic kept the game within five points, but Floyd the converted a classic three-point play,
Inside the final two minutes, Battlefield began to intentionally foul and Stonewall hit seven out of eight free throws.
Even a late 3-pointer by Salter couldn't close the gap long enough to beat the clock as Hinton responded by dribbling in circles before dishing the ball to Character, who sank a baseline shot that gave Stonewall a permanent double-digit lead.
"Basketball is a game of runs," surmised Martinez.
Despite the loss, Whaley insisted that some good came out the game and that Battlefield would be ready to go for regions.
"Today, we really learned how to play as a team," said Whaley. "We just need to keep working on keeping that consistency the whole game."
As for Stonewall, Martinez explained she planned to have her players spend the week working on defense in the run-up to regions.
"Right now, we're our biggest enemy," she said.
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