Gar-Field's Nikki Wells had big plans after the Indians' 61-51 victory over Annandale in the first round of the Gar-Field Lady Indians Holiday Classic.
The junior forward was going to head home, bundle up and go directly to her basketball hoop in the back yard and practice free throws. Despite leading Gar-Field with 20 points, Wells missed all 10 of her foul shots.
"I'll put on a sweater," Wells said, when asked whether it was too cold to play outdoors. "I mean, I was shooting worse than Shaq [Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal, a notoriously poor free throw shooter]. . . . I just wasn't thinking positive. I was getting down on myself, and I guess what I thought about is what happened."
The holiday rust was contagious. The Indians (5-1) managed just eight first-quarter points and went 0 for 8 from the line before senior center Kia Manuel made a foul shot with 4 minutes 58 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
Wells was not the only one who had a date with the free throw line after the game. First-year Gar-Field coach Larry Baker kept the entire team around afterward to practice foul shooting, announcing that no player could leave until she had made 5 of 6 attempts.
"A week is too long to go without a playing a game," said Baker, who took over the coaching duties from Fred Milbert after 15 years. "We were a little rusty, and I think it showed. . . . We'll take care of it."
Leading 23-19 at halftime over Annandale (1-5), the Indians began to show the form of a team seeking to win its 13th consecutive district championship. After jumping to a 36-29 lead behind six points from Wells, the Indians began to pull away late in the third quarter. Senior guard Vanessa Massie's short jump shot was followed seconds later by a fast-break layup by sophomore guard Kelly Brown. After Annandale's Erin Gaston hit a free throw to narrow the lead to 44-32, Massie closed out the quarter with a three-pointer from the top of the key.
It was a sloppy game throughout, with the two teams combining for 37 fouls. Gar-Field's Manuel was limited to 10 points after spending much of the second half on the bench with four fouls; she fouled out late in the game. Massie scored 12 points for the Indians, and junior guard Lisa Rendin tallied nine points.
"I'm happy that we won as a team, but personally I'm disappointed," said Wells, who also led the Indians with nine rebounds.
Annandale was led by senior guard Natasha Denny with 25 points.
The Indians take on Fairfax tonight at 8.
Annandale (1-5)--Denny 9 4-7 25, Hagen 0 2-2 2, Gaston 5 3-5 13, Ealy 1 0-0 2, Nelson 2 0-0 6, Calhoun 0 3-5 3. Totals 17 12-19 51.
Gar-Field (5-1)--Jones 1 0-0 2, V. Massie 4 3-3 12, Manuel 4 2-5 10, Wells 10 0-10 20, Brown 3 0-1 6, Rendin 2 3-5 9, Parker 1 0-1 2, Lomax 0 0-3 0, Peters 0 0-0 0, Cornwell 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 8-28 61.
Halftime: Gar-Field, 23-19.
Three-point goals: Annandale 5 (Denny 3, Nelson 2), Gar-Field 3 (V. Massie, Rendin 2).