Defense sparks Ridgeland-Hardeeville girls in first-round playoff win

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High School Basketball

Defense sparks Ridgeland-Hardeeville girls in first-round playoff win

Published Wednesday, February 13, 2013   |  475 Words  |  

The banging and hollering in the home locker room could be heard out in the hallway and across the hall in the Ridgeland-Hardeeville High School gym.

"Can somebody tell those girls in there they've got more games to win," Jaguars coach Frederick Toomer told a female student. "They haven't won a championship."

The Jaguars haven't won a championship, but they took the first step Tuesday, beating Calhoun County, 55-28, in the first round of the Class 2-A Lower State playoffs.

The Jaguars advance to host Burke at 7 p.m. Friday. Burke upset Wade Hampton, 55-44, on Tuesday.

The Jaguars set the tone early, out-hustling the Saints at every turn in the first quarter on the way to a 19-0 advantage at the end of the frame.

"We wanted to come out and be a force on defense and establish ourselves early on," Toomer said. "That was our focus. Play tough defense, and the offense will follow."

If there was a concern for Toomer, it was his team's offense. The opportunities provided by their tenacious defense masked the Jaguars' poor shooting.

"If we have to play a half-court game," Toomer said, "I definitely want us to correct our execution and improve our shooting."

Defensively, Ridgeland-Hardeeville was aggressive from the start, forcing a dozen first-quarter turnovers.

The assault had slowed by the half, but the Jaguars went into the break leading 26-6 and with three of the Saints starters carrying three fouls.

But after the half, the Jaguars were sluggish, and the Saints made a run to cut the lead to 14 late in the quarter, stealing some momentum.

"We were on top of our game in the first half," Ridgeland-Hardeeville senior Aaliyah Hill said. "(In the second half) we were too relaxed. We have to play defense the whole game."

"I told the team, 'These girls came all the way from Calhoun County. They're not just going to give up,' " Toomer said.

After a timeout, the Jaguars closed the third quarter on a 9-0 run, sparked by six points in 53 seconds from reserve Denesha Page, effectively ending the Saints' threat.

Hill led the Jaguars with 16. NyJae Boozer added nine and Jayme Chisholm had seven.

Brianna Charley scored 12, all in the second half, to lead Calhoun County.

Calhoun County -- Brianna Charley 12, S. White 4, S. Gaffney 4, H. Williams 2, B. Gifford 2, E. Brown 2, J. Klutz 2.

Ridgeland-Hardeeville (16-6) -- Aaliyah Hill 16, NyJae Boozer 9, Jayme Chisholm 7, Alima Upchurch 6, Denesha Page 6, Tiara Nelson 5, Ravin Grant 4, Sapatra Johnson 2.