The James River girls picked up their first basketball win of the new year when they defeated Hidden Valley on Monday. The Knights took a 54-35 win in Roanoke County.
River fell behind early, trailing 11-8 after the first period, but outscored the Titans 14-4 in the second quarter to forge a 22-15 halftime lead. Hidden Valley rallied in the third period but the Knights kept their composure and opened a 39-28 lead heading into the fourth quarter, then breezed to win.
“Once we settled into the game we started to pick up the tempo and shots started to fall,” said River coach Ryan Firebaugh. “Caitlin (Canada) and Sydnee (Breeding) played great, they both hit outside shots when we needed them the most and create a lot of open looks for other girls as well by attacking the basket.”
Canada finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds for a “double-double” while hitting three threes and coming up with a couple steals. Breeding had 10 points and three steals while Lexi McCullough had six points, seven boards and three steals.
“We locked down on the defense tonight,” said Firebaugh. “Most of the shots that Hidden Valley hit were contested and earned. I could not be prouder of the way the girls played. They are playing well and clicking like we were before our break before Christmas.”
The win lifted River to 8-3 on the season and snapped a two-game losing streak, as the Knights opened the new year with Three Rivers Disrict losses to Floyd County and Glenvar, both on the road.
Last week in Floyd the girls dropped their district opener, 64-43. McCullough had 14 points, seven rebounds and five steals, Canada had 13 points, eight boards and six steals and Siera Davis had nine points.
“Floyd’s pressure got the best of us early in the game,” said Firebaugh. “If we could have handled the pressure early in the game it’s a different ballgame. Once we broke the press we were getting great looks at the basket, we just needed to finish.”
On Friday at Glenvar the Knights dropped a 50-41 game to the host Highlanders. Once again River fell behind early but battled back to trail just 28-23 at the half, then rallied to tie the game at 35-35 early in the fourth quarter. However, Glenvar hit a hot streak and outscored River 15-6 down the stretch to pull away.
“Heartbreaker is all I have to say,” said Firebaugh. “We play so hard to come back and tie the game then just didn’t get the stops we needed late in the game. The score does no justice because we had to foul to stop the clock late in the game and Glenvar answered the pressure and hit their foul shots.”
Canada just missed another double-double with 18 points and nine rebounds. McCullough had nine points and six rebounds. Breeding and Keira Crawford had six points each.
The Knights were hoping to pick up their first district win Tuesday when they played host to Carroll but that was a tall order against the 11-1 Cavaliers. Their only loss was to Hebron Christian, a powerhouse from Georgia that Carroll played in a Christmas tournament.
On Friday the girls are back on the road with a trip to Radford and next Monday they’re home to Alleghany.