By Owen Gotimer
Leesburg (December 16, 2015) — For the first time all the season, the boys and girls basketball teams at Heritage High School watched the final seconds tick off the clock with leads on the scoreboard as the Pride swept Rock Ridge High School in a boys, girls doubleheader in Leesburg on December 14.
Young defense, depth leads Lady Pride
With just three upperclassmen, the Lady Pride (1-1, 1-3) have had and will continue to have an uphill battle in 2015-2016, but on December 14, their youth shined against the even younger Rock Ridge Lady Phoenix (0-2, 1-4) as the Heritage underclassmen combined for 28 points, 30 rebounds, 21 steals and 9 assists in their first win of the season.
“We’re just setting the foundation. When people look at a house they look at the glitz and glamor, but no one pays attention to the foundation that’s holding the whole house up. The coaching staff and I came up with a mission that we’re laying the foundation,” first-year Heritage head coach Reggie Barnes said. “The girls have been working hard. We’ve had some not so stellar moments. We’ve been working trying to fine tune things because we’re young. It’s relieving to get the monkey off our backs so to speak. Now, we can keep moving forward.”
Two upperclassmen – senior Samantha Sills and junior Corrianna Calloway – paved the way offensively for the Lady Pride with 10 points apiece, but sophomore Sydney Moore also added 10 points and 6 rebounds off the bench. The highlight of the game offensively for Heritage came in the game’s waning minutes when freshman Grace Sibley connected on her first bucket as all 11 of the Lady Pride players had scored in the contest.
“We’re trying to get the girls to realize that we can’t be shut down by taking one or two girls out of the game. That’s building a lot of confidence,” Barnes said. “We want them to be familiar with their teammates, so that in crunch time, they have confidence because they’ve been doing it all season. Basically, everyone has the green light within reason.”
Allowing only six offensive rebounds for the Lady Phoenix and adding 24 takeaways – Sibley led the Lady Pride with 7 steals, while fellow freshman Bri Campion added 5 – meant Heritage controlled the basketball for the majority of the game letting their offense settle in.
“We let the girls know we are here to compete, to reteach them things that we had to and to fine tune some things, like defense, that I think in times past hadn’t been stressed as much,” Barnes said. “They’re trying to adjust to us, like we’re trying to adjust to them.”
The Lady Pride have a long season ahead of them – which resumes December 16 when they travel across town to Tuscarora High School – but Barnes noted, they are excited for the opportunity.
“We want to compete, work hard and bust our tails one game at a time, one quarter at a time,” Barnes said.
Heritage Lady Pride Stats
Corrianna Calloway 10 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocked shots, 2-for-3 free throws
Sydney Moore 10 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, 2-for-4 free throws
Samantha Sills 10 points, 4 rebounds, 1 steal, 2-for-2 free throws
Mariel Terry 5 points, 4 rebounds
Lana Sjajo 5 points, 1 rebound, 2 steals, 1-for-2 free throws
Amber Kaiser 4 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal
Grace Sibley 3 points, 2 rebounds, 7 steals, 1 assist, 1-for-3 free throws
Kendall Edmond 2 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 assists, 0-for-2 free throws
Kayren Gaither 2 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist
Morgan Gray 1 point, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 blocked shot, 2 assists, 1-for-3 free throws
Bri Campion 1 points, 2 rebounds, 5 steals, 1 blocked shot, 3 assists, 1-for-2 free throws
53 points, 42 rebounds, 13 turnovers, 24 steals, 5 blocked shots, 9 assists, 10-for-21 free throws
Rock Ridge Lady Phoenix Stats
Soumya Pondugula 9 rebounds, 0-for-3 free throws
Jaihla Tillman 8 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 blocked shot, 6-for-10 free throws
Ashley Dean 7 points, 2 points, 2-for-4 free throws
Brooke Beaton 5 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 assist, 1-for-2 free throws
Becca Ludowig 2 points, 4 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 blocked shot, 1 assist, 2-for-2 free throws
Caleigh Schmid 2 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist
Olivia Ouimet 1 point, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, 1-for-6 free throws
25 points, 30 rebounds, 30 turnovers, 5 steals, 1 blocked shot, 3 assists, 12-for-27 free throws
Pride halt late Phoenix rally, knock down late free throws
Following the Lady Pride’s first win of the season, the Pride boys entered the Heritage High School gym in an attempt to follow suit and earn their first win of the season as well. Leading from the start and slowly pulling away throughout the game, Heritage (1-1, 1-3) had a scare in the fourth quarter as Rock Ridge (1-1, 2-3) pulled within 1-point on multiple occasions before Pride senior Anthony Cox had a steal and an exclamation point slam dunk as Heritage regained momentum and ran away late.
“It was just a matter of time that winning was going to happen, and it’s exciting for it to happen at home,” first-year Heritage head coach Sam Carpenter said. “The kids have put in a lot of work defensively, and we’re starting to pick up our offensive game. I think we’ll only get better in both of those aspects of the game.”
Cox – who led all scorers with 17 points while adding 6 rebounds – along with junior Zach Garrett – who added 7 points and 9 rebounds – really sealed the deal for the Pride with strong free throw shooting, especially late as Heritage knocked down all but one of their bonus free throws in the game’s final minutes.
“We were playing man the whole game, and we switched to a couple of zone looks at the end of the game, and I think it just slowed down what they were seeing and caught them off guard a little bit,” Carpenter said. “Our guys were able to capitalize in transition and knock down free throws.”
Both Heritage and Rock Ridge did a good job of handling the basketball, but good half-court defense by both teams meant a lower score game than most people are used to.
“We spend about 75-percent of our practices working on defense,” Carpenter said. “Our goal is to hold teams under 50 points, and we’ve been able to do that the last two games.”
The Pride defense had their hands full against Phoenix seniors Monteral Jackson, Justyn Tate and Tommy Caldwell – who combined for 25 points – but in the end, stopped the Rock Ridge comeback to earn their first conference win of the season.
“With us competing against the conference teams and out of conference teams, the mindset is going to be the same regardless,” Carpenter said. “We just want to keep things moving along regardless of who we’re playing. It’s all about improving our defense, and the offense will follow.”
Heritage Pride Stats
Anthony Cox 17 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, 3 assists, 5-for-6 free throws
Darick Edmond 8 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist
Zach Garrett 7 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 7-for-8 free throws
Zach Nylund 7 points, 1 rebound, 1 steal, 2 assists, 2-for-2 free throws
Kyle Turner 4 points, 4 rebounds, 2 blocked shots
Chris Chapman 4 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal, 2 assists
Jason Richards 2 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist
Josh Gray 2 rebounds
Garrett Ganley 1 rebound, 1 steal, 1 blocked shot
Aaron Maisus 1 rebound
50 points, 30 rebounds, 8 turnovers, 4 steals, 3 blocked shots, 11 assists, 14-for-16 free throws
Rock Ridge Phoenix Stats
Tommy Caldwell 10 points, 1 rebound, 2 steals, 5-for-8 free throws
Justyn Tate 9 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 2-for-2 free throws
Deontay Compton 8 points, 3 rebounds, 1 blocked shot
Monteral Jackson 6 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 blocked shot
Blake Blalock 3 points
Ayush Mayur 2 points, 3 rebounds, 1 blocked shot
Mike Bell 1 rebound, 1 assist
James Larsen 0-for-2 free throws
38 points, 11 rebounds, 9 turnovers, 3 steals, 3 blocked shots, 2 assists, 7-for-12 free throws