RICHMOND — Castlewood’s girls basketball team was trapped on a bus for more than 12 hours Tuesday night while the Lady Blue Devils traveled through a snowstorm to get to Richmond.
In the long run, it was probably easier getting over Afton Mountain during a blizzard than it was getting past East Rockingham’s full-court press.
The Lady Eagles (28-1) forced 39 Castlewood turnovers and snow-plowed the Lady Blue Devils 63-32 in Thursday’s VHSL Group A, Division 1 semifinal game at VCU’s Siegel Center.
“Their defensive pressure made it hard for us to get a lot of shots off and score. But I was pleased with our effort in the first half,” said Castlewood coach Barry Ruff, whose squad didn’t reach its hotel until 4 a.m. Wednesday morning. The team skipped a scheduled pregame practice in order to get caught up on its rest.
Castlewood trailed only 27-18 at intermission despite committing 24 first-half turnovers. While they defended like birds of prey, the Eagles shot like turkeys, going 9-for-41 over the first two frames, including 16 errant 3-point attempts.
“We were waiting for the lid to come off the rim out there. We were struggling to shoot the ball for quite some time. But we played hard on the defensive effort and gave a great effort defensively,” said East Rockingham coach Paul Comer, whose team had 28 steals, led by eight apiece from Katie Dofflemyer and Madison Comer.
“When our offense isn’t going well, sometimes our defense will carry us through.”
The East Rockingham defense continued to wear on Castlewood in the second half. The turnovers kept coming and the shots finally started falling. When the Eagles finally hit outside shots, the outcome was not in doubt.
Dofflemyer, who missed seven trey attempts in the first half, ignited for 10 third-quarter points to put the Lady Blue Devils in a 45-25 hole.
“Shooters have got to be mindless sometimes. You’ve got to keep shooting the basketball. We just had to loosen up and shoot a little bit. And make some layups,” said Paul Comer.
Madison Comer led the Eagles with 15 points, also collecting nine assists. Jessica Lam scored 14 points. Dofflemyer scored 14 points and had five rebounds. Meghan Nicholson led East Rockingham on the boards with eight rebounds.
Caitlyn Fleming scored 12 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead the Lady Blue Devils (21-7).
“These girls have been up to the challenge all year. We didn’t want to come in here too excited. We weren’t happy with just being here. We wanted to come in and compete,” Ruff said. “I feel this was definitely a tale of two halves.”