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Boys: Skyhawks Escape Lingering Knights
By JACOB VAUGHAN, Sports Editor
Dec 6, 2012, 12:35

Thomas Dale junior A.J. Holliday (21) drives the lane as L.C. Bird’s Malik Johnson (5) defends during a non-district game on Monday in Chester (photo by Jacob Vaughan).

CHESTER – In the moments preceding the boys basketball game between Thomas Dale and visiting L.C. Bird on Monday, the Knights’ announcer publicly commended the Skyhawks football team for advancing to Saturday’s Group AAA Division 6 title game.

The gesture momentarily transcended the bitter rivalry and drew a rollicking round of applause from home and visiting fans alike. But the niceties stopped there.

Once the ball was tipped, a fiercely contested matchup ensued. The two teams were virtually inseparable for the duration of the game, but the Skyhawks held on for a 52-45 win in the all-Chester affair.

Despite the wayward result, Thomas Dale coach Eddie Goss said he was pleased with the intensity that his team displayed in its final tune-up game before Central District play.

“We gave a great effort,” Goss said. “That’s four nights in a row that the effort has been great. Sometimes you play as hard as you can and you just don’t win.”

Though they never led, the Knights never trailed by more than the final margin. The home team was ultimately undone by its inability to execute in game-defining moments. The contest produced four ties – at six, nine, 19 and 42 – but L.C. Bird broke every deadlock with a lead-seizing 3-pointer.

Thomas Dale senior Kavon Waller restored hope to the boisterous home crowd by draining a contested 3-pointer that cut the deficit to 48-45 with less than a minute remaining, but the visitors scored the game’s final four points to clinch the road victory.

“We didn’t really make any plays,” Goss said. “We didn’t execute at the end. Kavon hit that one 3, but every time we cut it to three, two or one, we never could stop them and make a conversion on our end. That made the difference.”

Jevonte Redick posted 14 of his game-high 18 points in the first half for the Skyhawks, who led 32-27 at the break. Sophomore guard Andrien White led Thomas Dale with 16 points while Waller finished the game with 15.

The Skyhawks opened the game with back-to-back treys en route to a 6-2 lead, but Waller pulled the Knights level with four consecutive points immediately thereafter. Redick responded with another long-range offering from the right wing and, thus, the pattern of catch and release was born.

The opening frame ended with the score knotted at 19-19, but the scoring tailed off substantially in the second and third quarters. In fact, neither team doubled its first-quarter output until well into the fourth.

The Knights compensated for their slumping offense by limiting the Skyhawks to six points off three field goals in the third quarter. The defensive renaissance pulled Thomas Dale to within one at the onset of the fourth.

“There are two things we tell the kids to do every game: defend and rebound,” Goss said “Do those and you’ll have a chance to win. So that’s what we did — we defended, we rebounded and gave ourselves a chance. We just didn’t win.”

The Knights didn’t win because their opponents rediscovered their knack for knocking down timely jumpers. After Kenny Williams gave L.C. Bird a 42-37 edge with a hovering shot in the lane, Thomas Dale engineered a 5-0 run to restore the stalemate.

White accounted for the first three points of the spurt and Waller tacked on the final two, sinking a baseline jumper with the help of a friendly roll off the rim.

But Williams managed to reciprocate with a 3-pointer from the left side on the Skyhawks’ next possession, and the Knights never came closer than three points again.

Williams’ late barrage left him with 14 points, nine of which came on 3-pointers. Thomas Taylor anchored the interior for L.C. Bird, notching 12 rebounds and five blocks in addition to his seven points.

For the Knights, White finished with five steals and Collin Fleischer matched his point total with a team-high six rebounds. Junior point guard A.J. Holliday registered four assists to lead Thomas Dale, which fell to 2-2 on the season.

Goss said Waller and White are embracing their increased offensive roles.

“He’s carrying it,” Goss said of Waller. “And Andrien has stepped up real big. We’re happy to see that, we just have to find somebody else that can score.”

LCB: 19 13 6 14 – 52
TD: 19 8 10 8 – 45

BIRD: Carlos Thrash 2, Malik Johnson 0, C.J. Miles 9, Thomas Taylor 7, Jevonte Redick 18, Ty Wallace 0, Kenny Williams 14, Damir Gordon 2, Devin Barber 0. Totals: 15 15-21 52. 3-pointers: Redick 3, Williams 3, Miles.
DALE: Andrien White 16, Kavon Waller 15, Felix Culmer 0, Collin Fleischer 6, Tate Niles 0, A.J. Holliday 6, Chris Clark 2. Totals: 15 10-16 45. 3-pointers: Waller 3, White 2.

GIRLS: L.C. Bird Soars Past Thomas Dale

Thomas Dale senior Kazhana Joyce scored nine points in the second half of Monday’s loss to L.C. Bird (photo by Jacob Vaughan).

CHESTER – The first half of Monday’s non-district girls basketball game between visiting L.C. Bird and Thomas Dale served as a baptism by fire for the home team.

Thomas Dale stumbled its way to a 28-point halftime deficit, but Knights coach Kevin Coffey found himself breathing a little easier by game’s end. His squad outscored the Skyhawks by three points in the third quarter and by two in the fourth.

Moral victories would have to suffice for the veteran coach on this day, however, as L.C. Bird cruised to a 57-34 victory over its backyard rival.

“In the second half, we kind of picked it up a little bit,” Coffey said. “We were able to move around and get some good looks, but more importantly we got a few stops on the defensive end.”

Thomas Dale entered this season with only four returners from last year’s group, and Coffey offered inexperience as an explanation for the slow start.

“We’re still trying to find our niche,” Coffey said. “It’s more of a mental thing than it is physical. When we do run the offense, we get good looks. The problem is they forget to do it sometimes, and I attribute that to being young.”

Tiera Washington and Monica Alexander paced the Skyhawks with 18 and 15 points, respectively. Thomas Dale point guard Kazhana Joyce – one of three seniors on the team – keyed the Knights’ second-half turnaround with nine points after the intermission. The fast finish left her with 13 for the game.

“She was a great player in the second half,” Coffey said. “She finally started looking for her shot, she started being physical and she started being aggressive with the basketball. She wasn’t doing that in the first half.”

LCB: 17 23 5 12 – 57
TD: 6 6 8 14 – 34

BIRD: Taja Cole 9, Monica Alexander 15, Adiva Mckensie 0, Shaniya McLaughlin 0, Jade Hinkley 0, Cheyenne Blade 0, Alexis Bain 9, Anshae Harris 4, Tiera Washington 18 Tyra Shelton 2. Totals: 23 9-11 57. 3-pointers: Alexander, Bain.
DALE: Elen Flowers 5, Kazhana Joyce 13, Katie Waring 5, Dallas McElroy 2, Aija Hector 8, Makeese Bell 1, T’Keyah Banks 0. Totals: 11 11-18 34. 3-pointer: Joyce.

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