In the midst of what a casual fan sees as a blowout victory, a player can seize an opportunity, and a coach can catch a glimpse of what may be to come.
That was the case Saturday as Randolph-Macon women’s basketball advanced to 3-0 in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC), 8-1 overall, with a 100-61 rout of Hollins University at Crenshaw Gymnasium.
Without leading scorer Taylor Huber, who reaggravated plantar fasciitis in her left foot, head coach Carroll LaHaye wanted to get another player into the scoring rotation. A note she’d read earlier in the week gave her an idea.
“I had read an article earlier in the week about Atlee girls basketball being without ‘prolific scorer Stephanie Staples.’ I went to her and said, ‘Stephanie, this is one of the reasons we brought you to Randolph-Macon,’” LaHaye remembered.
“Yeah, coach gave me the green light, this morning actually,” Staples said with a smile on game day.
Overcoming a 101-degree fever from the day before, and maybe the mentality that it wasn’t her time yet as a freshman, Staples scored 16 points in 17 minutes, helping Randolph-Macon break an early 9-9 tie to go on a 27-8 run in the middle of the first half. The Jackets never looked back.
Sarah Parsons again led in scoring with 24 points, while Katie Anderson, Lauren Vugteveen and Lindsey Sharman each added 10 points. The Jackets were on fire, shooting 53.8 percent from the field, 52.9 from beyond the three-point arc, and 87.5 percent at the free throw line. LaHaye credits unselfish play for creating easier scoring opportunities.
“It was an absolute, total team effort all the way around. Everybody played, everybody scored. It was a great game to end the first semester on. We made that one extra pass to a player that’s wide open,” LaHaye said, noting her great pleasure with the free throw shooting performance.
“If you’ve seen enough games this season, you know making free throws is making a difference,” LaHaye noted.
All 12 Jackets suited and ready to play had at least 12 minutes on the floor, new experiences for freshmen like Taylor Intermill, Marisha Berry and Andi Prugh. Those are solid ODAC minutes that could come in handy in certain situations when conference crunch time arrives in February. Prugh had five points, Intermill and Berry two each.
The team is in exams now, but will emerge unencumbered by studies when they head to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. next Wednesday and Thursday to play in the 2013 Cruzin Classic. They will face Mount Saint Vincent and the College of New Jersey, the latter team already holding a win over an ODAC opponent, having beaten Lynchburg on opening night, Nov. 15.
This trip gives the team a chance to bond even closer and work on the chemistry off the court, which is so crucial to on-court communication and success. LaHaye is grateful for the opportunity to return to the Sunshine State.
“Our goal is to go down there and go 2-0. Last year was 0-2. I’m very fortunate that I have an outstanding athletic director who supports our opportunities to do this. He understands what we need in terms of team bonding,” LaHaye said.
“We’re feeling pretty good,” Staples added. “Everyone gets along and we have fun everywhere we go. We have goals in each game and they help us as each game comes along.”
There are more goals to reach in Florida before returning to enjoy the holidays, and prepare for the rigors of ODAC. But for now, it’s finish the semester and take a few moments to see what’s already been accomplished, and think of just how special this season could be in Crenshaw Gymnasium.