Pinecrest Girls Pull Away from Jack Britt
It was a surprisingly cohesive bunch of Pinecrest girls’ basketball players that opened the season with a 46-37 victory at Jack Britt Monday night.
Jennie Joy led the Patriots with 16 points in a tense game that didn’t find the two teams separated by more than four points until the closing minutes of the third period. The Patriot point guard also contributed seven assists, four steals and three rebounds.
Mike Loutzenheiser wasn’t named to succeed Alvita Thomas as the head coach of the Patriots until near the end of September. The Patriots had little court time together during the summer and fall.
Four of the six returning players were members of the Patriot volleyball team that completed a 24-win season about three weeks ago. Loutzenheiser had only 10 players dressed for the game.
“One of the things we’ve been talking about ever since I took over the program is chemistry and unity,” the coach said after the team’s first victory at Britt since 2002. “It was something we had to have to be successful. We’ve been preaching it, working on it and talking about it, and tonight it showed up on the court.”
The Patriots displayed patience and discipline right from the opening tip. They turned the ball over only seven times in a first half that ended with the home team leading 20-18.
Senior guard Shaniqua Collins contributed a three in the first period and an acrobatic two in the second to give her team a lift. But the Patriots’ two tallest players, Janea Williams and Felicia Painter, finished the half on the bench with three and two fouls respectively.
“They (Britt) were playing tough defense so we had to settle down and make sure who we were passing the ball to,” Joy said. “When we came back from the first half, we were up-tempo and I felt like we had control of the game.”
Senior Lizzie Smith came off the bench to spark a third-quarter run that put the Pats in front for good. First, she fed Williams inside for a basket that cut the Buc lead to 26-24. On the next possession, she took a pass from Joy and drained a two from the side that tied the game up. In the closing minute of the third period, she found Williams again for the basket that made it 32-26.
“She’s an unbelievably smart basketball player,” Loutzenheiser said of Smith. “She does a great job being in the right position and moving without the ball.”
Early in the fourth, a three by Joy extended the Patriot margin to 35-28. Senior Ashleigh McKenzie also sank a three-pointer, and later turned a steal into two more, sinking the hopes of the home team.
“We didn’t want to go home 0-1,” she said. “We wanted to go home 1-0.”
Williams, a sophomore, finished with eight points and 10 rebounds. The Bucs were hurt by a 6-for-19 shooting performance at the charity stripe while the Pats converted 11 of 15 attempts.
The Patriot players were feeling very good in the aftermath. On Tuesday, they would be facing an even tougher test in their home opener against Seventy-First.
“We came together like a family,” Joy said. “I love it. I love it.”
Loutzenheiser came to Pinecrest in the summer as an assistant football coach and teacher in the exceptional children department. He has years of experience as a head football and boys’ basketball coach in North Carolina and Arizona, but this is the first time he has coached high school girls.
“We want our girls to believe we’re the better team in the second half,” the coach said after his team outscored the Bucs 28-17 over the final two quarters. “The seniors were big for us tonight. They really led and did a great job.”
Way back on Jan. 8, 2002, when Pinecrest beat Jack Britt 42-31 in Fayetteville, Amber Wallace led the winners with 24 points.
Contact Charlie Bergmann at email@example.com.
Pinecrest 8 10 14 14 46
Jack Britt 9 11 6 11 37
Pinecrest - Joy 5 5-7 16, Painter 1 4-5 6, McKenzie, 2 0-0 5, Collins 2 0-1 5, Williams 4 0-0 8, Lynch 1 0-0 2, Smith 1 2-2 4, Alston 0 0-0 0, Little 0 0-0 0, Peyton 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 11-15 46; Britt – Ferguson 2 0-0 4, Jones 1 1-2 3, Slaughter 0 0-0 0, Shank 1 0-2 2, Taylor 3 0-3 6, Wylie 2 0-0 4, J. Bryant 2 2-2 7, B Bryant 4 3-10 11, K. Taylor 0 0-0 0, Totals 15 6-19 37. Three-point goals: (P) 3 (Joy, Collins, McKenzie); (J) 1 (J. Bryant)
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