C.A. JOHNSON GIRLS 48, FOX CREEK 27

By BILL BENGTSON


bbengtson@northaugustastar.com


Fox Creek High School’s uncharted territory – the postseason in girls’ basketball – included plenty of tough terrain Monday, as the Lady Predators came up short in their program’s first-ever playoff game, to the tune of 48-27 against C.A. Johnson from Columbia.


Fox Creek (11-11), playing at home, led 8-7 after the first quarter, but ran into big trouble in the second quarter and never recovered.


The visitors (8-10) wound up with a game-leading performance from Nakia Owens. She racked up 16 points, scoring only two points in the first frame but getting in gear for seven in the second.


Teammate Kaitlin Pickens wound up with 14 points, including eighth in the final quarter, when the visitors were hosing down any attempt at a comeback.


Each team wound up with five players scoring. Fox Creek’s leaders were Dominique Moore and Stefanie Bloedel, with nine points each.


“I don’t know if they turned up the intensity, or we just had a couple of breakdowns that didn’t go our way, and then, you know, first time in the playoffs, get a few jitters and just didn’t recover,” said Richard Brady, Fox Creek’s coach.


“I didn’t feel like we played like we’re capable of playing defensively tonight, but C.A. Johnson’s athletic.”


He described Owens, in particular, as an excellent player, and noted that Fox Creek “just didn’t make the plays we needed to make.”


Both squads tended to launch bricks from the free-throw line, as Fox Creek went 4-12 and the visitors went 5-14.


“We’re some late bloomers,” said Marlon Smith, the Lady Green Hornets’ coach, acknowledging that his team got off to a relatively slow start.


“We lost a couple of close games early, in the region, in the second and third quarter, so I just wanted to keep up the intensity, keep them going and just keep on pressing, and we were hoping we’d break them and be able to score some points.”


Smith described his squad, traditionally led in scoring by Owens, as “pretty well-balanced” Monday evening.


He cited Naquita Young and Demeatrius Bryant for strong play, with Bryant’s rebounding as especially big.


Playing their final game for Fox Creek were seniors Haley Bryant, Summer Payne, Stefanie Bloedel (usually the squad’s leading scorer) and Angelica Johnson.


Payne and Bloedel aren’t likely to have much time to unwind, as both are pitchers in Fox Creek’s softball program, which is gearing up for the 2013 campaign.


“We’ve been working to make playoffs since I’ve been here, so that was a really big accomplishment,” said Bryant, who is the youngest of three siblings in a family that has had a student-athlete involved at Fox Creek since the school’s creation.


“That was our No. 1 goal, and we accomplished that, so that was huge, but it would have been nice to get to the second round,” she said.


C.A. Johnson now moves on to face McCormick on the road in a Thursday contest.


CAJ 7 17 9 15 - 48


FC 8 5 6 8 - 27


C.A. Johnson (8-10)—Nakia Owens 6 1-3 16, Naquita Young 2 3-6 7, Kaitlin Pickens 7 0-0 14, Demeatrius Bryant 4 1-3 9, Shontavia Bacote 0 0-2 0, Jenee Melton 1 0-1 2. Totals 20 5-14 48.


3-pointers: Owens.


Fox Creek (11-11)—Taylor Sheppard 2 0-0 2, Stefanie Bloedel 3 2-4 9, Angelica Johnson 2 0-0 2, Keiana Green 2 1-2 5, Dominique Moore 4 1-6 9. Totals 13 4-12 27.


3-pointers: Bloedel.