HV girls stymie Rebels

By Jeff Birchfield
STAR Staff

   COLONIAL HEIGHTS -- Allowing just six points in the final quarter, Happy Valley's defensive pressure stymied Sullivan South taking a 48-46 win in girls' basketball action Thursday evening at South's home gym.
   "This is a definite improvement," remarked Lady Warrior head coach Ben Godsey. "Especially there at the end with just a few minutes left, we turned it up. We did what we had to do, playing defense and hitting free throws.
   "We've got a good bunch of kids this year. They're aggressive, they play hard and they work hard. It's a big difference from some of the past teams. We just have to work on our skills and taking care of the basketball and we can be an improved basketball team."
   The Lady Warriors had trailed most of the game until they took the lead with a little over five minutes remaining on a turnaround shot by Terra Whaley.
   After losing their advantage back to South, Crystal Nave scored at the 1:18 mark that put Happy Valley back ahead. She added a free throw 30 seconds later to give her team a two-point lead.
   "It was because I had my team behind me that I hit that shot," said Nave. "I remember how we struggled last year and I don't want to have the same senior year that the seniors had last year. Our attitude is good and we're working real well together.
   "I was praying big time. I always pray before I come up with those shots because I know for us every win is a big game. It was a team effort and we won as a family."
   The Lady Rebels promised to not go down without a fight as Holly Jones, capped off her game-high 25 points with a bucket to knot things up at 46-apiece. However, the tandem of Happy Valley guards Mandy Byrd and Kortney Goulds weren't going to let this one slip away.
   Goulds drew a foul with only six seconds remaining after a nice assist from Byrd. Once she got to the foul line, like Nave, she looked for divine intervention to help her sink the winning free throws.
   "Those free throws were real big," said Goulds. "I just said a prayer to myself saying (Phillipians) 4:13, which is 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.' It wasn't just me. I have to thank my teammates for the game they played out there.
   "I haven't been around the gym as much as I should have been, but being around basketball all my life, I've always been practicing free throws."
   South tried to come back and tie it, but the Lady Warrior defense clamped down even harder, not letting the Rebs get a shot off at the end. "It was real satisfying to shut them down," said Goulds. "The key to our team right now is defense. We're an athletic group and we can slap it on them when we need to.
   "We took it up a notch in the fourth quarter. We locked down and knew what had to be done."
   Offensively, the Lady Warriors were led by Brandi Dugger with 13 points, while Byrd and Whaley each scored 7 in the win. Kristi Ballard countered with seven of her own for South.
   For HV, who improved to 2-3 on the season, it was a quality win over a larger school and one particularly sweet for coach Godsey, who played his high school ball for South's chief rival Dobyns-Bennett. "I've come over here several times and have got whipped," said Godsey. "I got chewed out by (former D-B coach) Buck (Van Huss) a couple of times and I always will remember that. It's nice to come over here and get a win on the road."
   The Lady Rebels (2-2) dropped to the .500 mark with the loss and coach Jeremy Jenkins gave a simple explanation for the defeat. "We didn't play very smart down the stretch," said the South coach. "We didn't take care of the basketball and it's as simple as they made their shots and we didn't. They turned up the defense and we got passive with the ball. As bad as you hate a loss, it might be good for this team."