Atlee girls top Hanover in inter-county rivalry

It’s never a surprise when two strong rivals play a close game in any sport, but the way those games unfold can still surprise the most veteran of observers.

Hanover’s Sarah Belcher and Atlee’s Jamari Blackwell fought for a rebound during Tuesday’s rivalry game at Hanover High.

Such was the game that unfolded at Hanover High School Tuesday evening when the Hawks’ girls basketball team battled Atlee in Capital District action. Atlee won the first quarter, 11-10. Hanover won the second quarter 11-10, taking their only lead of the first half on a basket by Amber Norris with 3:05 to go for a 21-19 edge. Neither team shot well, combining for 52 missed field goal attempts in just the first half.

But it was the second half that featured the bizarre, the unexplained, and the run that helped the visiting Raiders escape with a 56-48 victory.
Atlee began the second half on an 8-0 run, extending the lead to 41-31 late in the third on a jumper from Jamari Blackwell, who scored 12 points. Two Hanover free throws ended the quarter with the Raiders up 41-33, but before the fourth could begin, an extended conversation took place at the scorer’s table over the possibility that Hanover had been awarded two points during the third that, in actuality, never occurred. After a nearly five-minute stoppage, it was determined the scoreboard was correct at 41-33. The Hawks began the fourth on a 6-1 run of their own and had the Raider lead down to two at 44-42 with four minutes left.

Atlee head coach LaTanya Collins called timeout, reassembled the troops, and sent floor general Stephanie Staples, even with four fouls, into battle, converting the conventional three-point play for a 50-45 edge. A minute later, Staples and Hanover’s April Lankford were called for a double foul at the Raiders’ offensive end. Before the officials acknowledged that Staples had committed her fifth, and disqualifying foul, they whistled the ball in play, and it was Staples who inbounded the ball to Cierra Shelton, who promptly drained a three-pointer. It was 53-45. The officials stopped play, Staples left the game, but, somehow, the Shelton basket stood. The Hawks never got closer than five.

“It was an awkward game,” Staples said afterward. “We finally started to play better towards the end. Their 2-3 zone was so impacted inside, it really affected my game. I couldn’t do much.”

Staples still managed 12 points before heading to the bench.

“I was very proud of our defensive pressure as well as our mental toughness,” Collins noted. “Several times we could have folded, like when Stephanie [Staples] fouled out, but we didn’t.”

Collins was also the first to note that Atlee, now 3-4 in the Capital District, 6-7 overall, were off their mark offensively.

“We had missed layups,” Collins said. “It’s just one of those things. I think the pressure was there for us because of the rivalry. These are all girls that grew up playing with and against each other.”

Shelton led the Raiders with 16 points, followed by 14 from Ashley Weaver. Hanover was led by Haleigh Omohundro’s 16 points, while Norris added 15. The Hawks fell to 1-6 in the Capital, 2-11 overall with the home loss, and not much time to ponder “what ifs.” Maggie Walker Governor’s School comes to Hanover for a non-district battle Thursday night, coming off a 37-29 triumph Monday over Lee-Davis. The Hawks will need to stop Sarah Boegner, who had a double-double (14 points, 11 rebounds) against the Confederates.

The Raiders have even less time, playing Dinwiddie on Wednesday night at home before going back on the road in the Capital against Henrico.

Posted on Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 3:14 pm