If only opponents had understood what the Lady Warriors truly considered “home.”
Logan Reynolds scored 20 points, Hayley Wyrick fired up 19 and Central took a 76-36 win over John Battle in Tuesday’s Region D, Division 2 tournament quarterfinals.
The Lady Warriors (24-1) played the Lady Trojans (12-13) in the cramped old J.J. Kelly gymnasium. The players voted weeks ago that the old place was where they wanted to play if they got the top seed.
“I love it here. The atmosphere is crazy. They call it ‘The Crackerbox’ for a reason,” said Reynolds, who also had 10 rebounds, collected seven steals, handed out five assists and blocked three shots.
The Central program is expected to be housed in a new gymnasium next year. Tuesday’s quarterfinal was very likely the last high school basketball game ever to be played on that floor. This was particularly meaningful to Central upperclassmen like post Laura Gipe, who played for Kelly prior to consolidation.
“The younger girls have been playing at the college, but this is still home for us,” said Gipe, who scored 11 points, grabbed nine boards and took four steals.“The intensity of this gym, the love, the history. It was such an honor to play here and we were so excited to get to do it,” she said.
Perhaps a little overly excited at times. While the defense kept the pressure on the Lady Trojans, the extra adrenaline made for some wildly inconsistent offense on the Lady Warriors’ part.
After a slow start, Central scored 31 points in the second quarter to lead 43-17 at the half. The Lady Warriors scored only two points over the first six minutes of the third quarter, allowing Battle to claw back to within 16 on a Kaycee Casteel jumper with less than three minutes remaining in the period. After an Ally Stallard free throw, a steal and transition layup by Reynolds — who shot 10-for-10 from the free throw line — got Central scoring moving again.
Lady Trojans interim coach Ike Anderson would rather have played at the college. But he had no complaints.
“That’s OK. That’s part of being the No. 1 seed. You ought to be able to choose. They earned it. They deserved it,” said Anderson, who got 10 points from Brittany Balthis.
Central advanced to play Virginia High in Thursday’s 6 p.m. semifinal game at Castlewood High School. In last year’s semis, the Lady Bearcats eliminated the Lady Warriors 51-49 .
“We have a chance for revenge and we’re looking forward to the challenge,” said Wyrick, who scored nine points in the final stanza, including a 7-for-8 showing at the foul line. “We’ll bring the same type of intensity and pressure and I guess we’ll see how that goes.”