Girls basketball: Chiefland claws back from down 23 points to stun Newberry 39-38

·3 min read
Chiefland's Charity Hodge looks to drive past Newberry's  Sarah Beaulieu during Chiefland's 39-38 win on Jan. 24 from Newberry High School.
Chiefland's Charity Hodge looks to drive past Newberry's Sarah Beaulieu during Chiefland's 39-38 win on Jan. 24 from Newberry High School.

Typically, when a basketball team enters the second quarter with a 19-2 lead, you can expect a lopsided final score. You can also expect the team that put up 17 unanswered points in the opening quarter to win.

However, neither of these assumptions proved true on Monday night as the Chiefland Indians (15-7) beat the Newberry Panthers (10-8) 39-38 in Newberry.

While a two-point bucket from Chiefland senior Ashari Bowers put the Indians ahead early, the Indians' lead soon subsided.

Newberry senior Amaya Greene opened the scoring for the Panthers with a three-ball, while junior Deasia Bryant followed suit with a three-point play after being fouled during her lay-in and converting the free throw.

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The Panthers threw up eight attempts from the foul line in the first quarter alone and converted six of them.

While Greene led Newberry's scoring efforts in the first quarter with five points, the Panthers saw seven different players record points in the opening minutes of the game.

Chiefland's defense intensifies

After a humbling opening quarter that saw the Indians fall behind 19-2 and neglect to score for much of the quarter, Chiefland head coach Lee Bell knew the Indians had to make adjustments to climb out of that hole.

"It looked like they were down," Bell said of his team after the first quarter. "I told them they gotta keep playing, get through it and they found some energy."

With a pair of made free throws from senior Charity Hodge, the Indians saw their scoring drought come to an end.

However, that didn't stop four different Newberry scorers orchestrate an 8-0 run to increase the Panthers lead out to 23 points.

Newberry sophomore Natreana Akanni led the way for the Panthers with 11 points, while Bryant was right on her heels with nine points.

But in the back half of the second quarter, Bell and the Indians pulled out their full-court press, forcing Newberry to commit turnovers, which Chiefland capitalized on.

The Indians finished the first half on a 12-0 run led by Hodge, who scored seven points in the second quarter.

"Once they got up like that, I said we gotta put pressure on them and create turnovers," Bell said. "That's what we do and that's what we've done all season... We had to go back to what we know."

Indians prevail with help from Nikki Fuller

After being down 19-2 after the opening minutes, going into the locker room down 11 points was a small victory.

But with a half of basketball yet to be played, Bell knew he had to find a spark.

Chiefland's senior center Nikki Fuller came into Monday night's matchup averaging 8.5 points per game. Having not scored a point in the opening half, Fuller seemed due for a breakout.

"I told her in one of those timeouts, I said, 'We gotta find some energy from somewhere'," Bell said. "Nikki, usually, is an energizer bunny. She was playing a little low so I told her that she's gotta find some energy."

Fuller's energy came in the form of 11 second-half points, which led the night's total scoring for Chiefland.

A lay-in from Fuller with 2:40 to play gave the Indians their first lead since the opening points of the game.

Unsuccessful free-throw shooting from the Panthers, paired with a two-point bucket from Bowers helped Chiefland polish off the game and avenge the 11-point loss it took to Newberry in the first game of the season on Nov. 15.

Looking ahead

The Indians will look to keep their momentum rolling when they visit Lafayette on Thursday night at 6.

Meanwhile, the Panthers hope to return to the win column and pick up a win over Dixie County on Tuesday night at home at 6.

This article originally appeared on The Gainesville Sun: Nikki Fuller ignites Chiefland in second-half comeback win over Newberry

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