By JAMES GENSTERBLUM / Daily News Correspondent
It’s rare that an early-season game is as big as the one between the Waldron Spartans and the Camden-Frontier Lady Redskins was on Friday night.
In a showdown between two of the top teams in the SCAA Central division, the Spartans defended their home court and sent a clear message to the rest of the division with a 66-51 victory over the Redskins.
“It’s a big victory for us because Camden-Frontier is a strong team,” Waldron senior forward Abbe Wines said. “You know that they’re going to bring a lot of pressure and intensity whenever you play them, so to get a win over them is a pretty big deal.”
The Spartans jumped all over the Redskins early on in the game, running out to a 14-0 lead early in the first quarter off of solid defense and several transition baskets.
From there, the Spartans methodically stretched out their lead, going up 44-22 early in the third quarter, and then held off a late charge by the Redskins that cut the to under ten in the fourth quarter to get the win.
“I told our girls before the game that we had to be more aggressive offensively and defensively than we had been earlier in the season if we were going to win tonight,” said Waldron coach Jeff Knowlan.
“They really executed as a team extremely well in that first half and played the type of basketball we want them to play. I was proud of them.”
The Spartans were led by a strong core of returning players throughout the game, as Waldron’s five starters combined for 64 of their 66 points.
Playing especially well for the Spartans were Wines and senior guard Kelsey Knowlan. Wines had 23 points and showed off a variety of low post moves, while Knowlan hit three threes and finished with 17 points, and both players scored all of Waldron’s fourth quarter points to hold off a late C-F run.
“All of us, our core group of seniors, have been in these situations many times, and we’ve learned how to handle them,” Kelsey Knowlan said. “Our job is to provide leadership for the younger players on the team so that they have the same confidence we do in pressure situations.”
Catey Fix and Randi Roney each had nine points for the Spartans, and Mackenzie Price added six.
One area where the Spartans struggled, however, was in committing fouls. The Redskins scored 22 of their 51 points at the line, keeping them in the game until a late push finally put them away.
Junior guard Morgan Warfield shot 13-for-14 from the line and scored 24 points in an attempt to keep the Redskins alive, while Jackie Parker added 10 for C-F.
“Our inexperience really hurt us tonight,” said Redskins coach Melissa Warfield. “We have five freshmen and sophomores playing major minutes and they just didn’t have the game experience to handle the kind of pressure that Waldron was throwing at us tonight. I’m proud of the way they fought, and I think this will be a great learning experience for them that we can build off of as the season continues.”
One freshman who played well for C-F was Amanda Abney, who had seven of her 10 points in the fourth quarter during the Redskins comeback.
“I’ve been telling Amanda for a while now that if she works hard and improves her confidence, that she has the talent to be a really good player,” Warfield said. “It’s really exciting that she’s starting to realize that and come into her own.”
Although the Spartans (2-3, 2-1 SCAA) and the Redskins (4-2, 4-1 SCAA) met on Friday, they’ll be playing again in the Pat Paterson Classic just eight days from now at Hillsdale High.
“It’s a weird situation for both of us,” Knowlan said. “I’m sure we’ll both be watching tonight’s tape several times over the next few days, and we’ll try to find some new wrinkles we can work in to catch each other off guard.”