Caitlin Canada had 27 points and a dozen rebounds to lead the James River girls to a 52-44 win at Rockbridge County in girls basketball Tuesday night. The win snapped a seven-game losing streak for the Knights after opening the season 6-2.
“Beyond proud of the girls tonight,” said coach Ryan Firebaugh. “We’ve hit some bumps in the road throughout the season but tonight the road was as straight as it can be. We played with intensity from the tip to the end of the game. We had individuals step up and contribute to this team tonight, it was a great overall team win.”
River outscored the Wildcats in each of the first three quarter to open a nine-point lead, including a 23-15 lead at the half.
“We had a great first half overall,” said Firebaugh. “Our defense was stepping up and making those ‘one-and-dones’ that we preach day in and day out.”
The Knights outrebounded Rockbridge 40-34 as Canada and Honesty Liming had 12 each. Rachael Crowder had seven boards and Reagan Hester had 16 points for the Knights.
“I felt like our intensity level tonight was great from the start of the game to the end of the game,” said Firebaugh. “The girls were hungry tonight, we coaches could see it in their eyes before the game and during the game. They were not going to let this game slip away from them.”
The win followed Three Rivers District losses to Alleghany and Radford last week. At Radford the girls dropped a 67-31 decision despite 15 points and 13 rebounds by Liming.
“We started out flat in the first quarter, and Radford was firing on all cylinders,” said Firebaugh. “Overall, it was just not our night.”
Last Thursday was Senior Night in Springwood and Alleghany put somewhat of a damper on it with a 45-24 win over the Knights. River came out flat and didn’t score in the first quarter, trailing 15-0. The Knights held the Mountaineers to four points in the second quarter and cut the lead to 19-7 at the half.
“If you can hold any high school varsity basketball team to four points in a quarter, you are doing something on the defensive side,” said Firebaugh. “That was a big upside for our girls going into halftime.”
River got as close as six in the second half but couldn’t pull even. Canada had 11 points and Liming had 10 rebounds.
“I was proud of the girls for not quitting,” said Firebaugh. “We made some adjustments at halftime and they came out firing on all cylinders. It’s hard to be down early and fight your way back into the game, you exerted so much early trying to claw yourself back into it.”
The Knights come into the final week of the season with a 7-9 overall record. They were scheduled to visit Floyd County on Tuesday and Saturday they’re at Alleghany for a 5:30 p.m. start, and it’s the first game of a double-header with the boys. The regular season ends next Tuesday with a home game against Radford, and then the Knights will wait for their seeding in the Region 2C tournament. There is no Three Rivers District tournament this season.