Girls’ basketball: Nicole Floyd lifts Stonewall Jackson past Battlefield, 48-46

January 15, 2014

Midway through the third quarter of Wednesday’s 48-46 victory against Battlefield, Stonewall Jackson’s Nicole Floyd pulled up for a midrange jumper near the base line. The ball became wedged between the rim and backboard.

For three and a half quarters, that’s about how it went for the senior Wake Forest recruit. Turnovers and an inordinate number of charges mired Stonewall’s usually potent attack.

But with less than 20 seconds left in the game and the Raiders trailing by one point, there was little doubt who the offense would flow through.

During a 30-second timeout, Stonewall Jackson Coach Diana Martinez drew up a ball screen designed to free Floyd down low.

But another player fired a jumper, and for a moment the ball — and the Raiders’ hopes — careened around the rim.

Floyd timed her jump perfectly, pulling down the rebound over two defenders and putting it back for the winning layup while being fouled.

She converted the free throw with 8.1 seconds left to seal the win in Manassas.

“The coaches always tell me if the ball goes up on one side, go to the other and box out,” said Floyd, who scored 17 of her game-high 22 points in the second half. “That’s basically what I did, just simple basketball.”

Battlefield (12-4, 2-3 Conference 8) had one more chance, but a potential buzzer-beater rimmed out.

After the game, as the Raiders milled around outside the locker room, junior guard Rachel Burns raised her hands in the air, frantically pantomiming her defensive stance as she tried to avoid fouling Battlefield’s Misha Jones (18 points) on the final play, which could have resulted in a tying two-pointer or a winning old-fashioned three.

“I was just praying that [Jones] wouldn’t make it,” Martinez said. “She’s a very talented player, and at the end of the game the ball is always in her hands.”

The Bobcats came out hot and led 45-41 at the two-minute mark in the fourth quarter.

But the Raiders finished the game strong.

“Our kids finally started playing poised and under control, not letting the crowd or Battlefield get to them mentally,” Martinez said. “From a toughness standpoint, this game was crucial for our kids down the stretch.”

Battlefield took advantage of an overly zealous Raiders defense, shooting 12 for 13 at the free throw line.

“We knew how they played, that it would be tough competition, but we just stayed in there,” senior Kayla Hix said.

With the victory, Stonewall (8-5, 3-0) took command of Conference 8 and dealt the Bobcats another difficult defeat.

The Raiders won the Dec. 11 meeting between the teams in Haymarket, 53-52.

With Wednesday’s victory, Stonewall improved to 25-0 all time against the Bobcats.

“We didn’t want to start making losing at home a trend, so we just dug down deep and pulled out the win,” Floyd said.

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