Lady Warriors thwart UH

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR STAFF
mbirchfield@starhq.com

   The Lady Warriors were successful in their bid for a first-round victory in the Valley Forge Auction Ladies' Thanksgiving Classic, despite a struggling night from the charity stripe.
   Happy Valley posted a 50-39 win over University High on Wednesday, but it was not to the liking of a disgruntled coaching staff.
   By just hitting 23 out of 49 from the free-throw line, the Warriors nearly squandered what was once a 19-point lead during the third quarter.
   "We missed over 20 shots on free throws and that was a big difference in the score of the ball game," said Happy Valley coach Ben Godsey. "We got a little bit too confident and we got the win, but are still not playing like we want to."
   Happy Valley started the contest jumping out to a 13-5 lead by the end of the first period.
   The Warriors enjoyed a five-point advantage in the first three minutes of action, with a pass from Katie Powell to Mandy Byrd on the break making the score 7-2.
   "We didn't shoot much from the outside, but if we would have made our lay-ups and foul shots, then we would have killed them," said Powell.
   University High battled back to cut the deficit to two after Kristy Bennett sank a couple of foul shots.
   A 6-0 run by Happy Valley in the final three and a half minutes gave them an eight-point advantage at the end of the first quarter of play.
   The Warriors continued to stretch the margin during the second quarter, as they enjoyed a 27-12 lead heading into halftime.
   Happy Valley came out in the second half with a quick score as Terra Whaley nailed down a baseline jumper.
   Whaley finished the night as the Warriors' leading scorer with 15 points, while Keila Williams added 12. Both post players carried the offense down-low while controlling the boards as HV's outside shooting was struggling, accounting for just one three-point goal, which came from Amber Duncan.
   "We got some good looks at the basket, but we just not converting them right now," said Godsey. "They started sagging on us after we had some success on the inside, and we had open look after open look but just didn't get them to drop tonight."
   The Warriors built a 19-point lead when Powell picked up the loose ball, making it a 37-18 contest, but the Lady Bucs did manage to go on an 8-3 run by the end of the third period, cutting the margin to 40-26.
   By hitting just 13 of 28 shouts from the foul line in the first three quarters, the Lady Warriors had a chance to redeem themselves by making a strong finish at the line.
   With University High being far behind and all ready in foul trouble, it had no other choice than to foul in the final minutes.
   "I had three or four girls all night in foul trouble, and when you have just 10 players, that ends up digging deep into your bench," said University High coach Amy Horton.
   In the final period, the Warriors went 10 out of 21 from the charity stripe, as several misses enabled the Bucs to close within 10 in the final three and a half minutes.
   "We had plenty of chances from the free-throw line, but our foul shots didn't fall and neither did our lay-ups, but we'll be back Friday ready to play hard," said Powell.
   A three-point goal from Dyana Bowens and foul shot by Jo Thomas made it a 44-34 contest.
   "We talked about several different things we needed to do at halftime, and they came out in the second half and showed me they could do it," said Horton. "I thought we did a much better at running the break, but we just couldn't get some shots to fall during the first half."
   The Bucs cut even more into the margin when Bowens hit a field goal with 2:07 left to make it an eight-point game.
   Still struggling from the foul-line down the stretch, the Warriors were able to hold off the Bucs.