North Stafford's lineup may be full of new faces this season, but the strategy that helped the Wolverines earn second place in the Commonwealth District last year has not changed a bit.
The Wolverines' full- and half-court traps forced Stafford into 13 first-half turnovers--23 for the game--and they held on for a 55-50 victory over the visiting Indians.
"Whether we get a steal or not off the pressure does not matter," second-year North Stafford coach Patricia Oliver said. "We try to force the other team into making bad passes."
The Wolverines (5-4, 3-0) limited the Indians (8-2, 2-1) to just five first-half field goals and had a 29-18 lead at halftime.
"We try to make them nervous so we can get in their heads," junior guard Christina Carmon said.
The 5-foot-7 Carmon, the only returning starter from last season's 13-10 team, led North Stafford last night with a game-high 19 points--including several key baskets late in the fourth quarter--to go along with seven rebounds, one block and two steals.
North Stafford looked as if it might run away at the start of the third quarter, forcing turnovers on the Indians' first three possessions and increasing its lead to 39-24. But Stafford sophomore guard Becky Johnsen (18 points) scored eight consecutive points--including two three-pointers--to help narrow North Stafford's lead to 43-36 by the end of the third quarter.
Behind Johnsen, Stafford continued to chip away at the Wolverines' lead in the fourth quarter. The Indians narrowed the lead to 52-47 following her layup off junior Ashley Roberson's steal with 43 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Sophomore Megan Vrabel then stole the inbounds pass and assisted junior guard Angie Mathis's layup seconds later, which cut the lead to 52-49.
But Carmon drove the length of the floor and, with 26 seconds left on the clock, hit a tough leaning jump shot that sealed the victory for North Stafford.
The loss is the second straight for Stafford after beginning the season 8-0. The Indians lost at Stonewall Jackson on Wednesday night, 51-48.
"We won eight games and people picked us probably to win two of those eight," Stafford Coach Rick Butler said.
Notes: Stafford senior center Meghan Wilson played for the first time in four games. Wilson was taken to the hospital during practice on Jan. 3 and later was diagnosed with a nerve dysfunction in her heart.