Suffocating defense sets tone in Lady Warcats’ blow-out victory

Suffocating defense sets tone in Lady Warcats’ blow-out victory
July 16
00:00 2015

In above photo: Cheven Pickard (in white) plays tenacious defense against Monique Floyd of USA Elite. (Photo by Craig T. Greenlee )

It took a while for the Winston-Salem Lady Warcats to get their juices flowing against USA Elite in women’s semi-pro basketball action last Saturday.

But once that happened, what had been a tightly contested game eventually turned into a one-sided affair.

By the time the dust settled, Winston-Salem cruised to a 97-64 victory in the regular-season finale for both teams, which was played at the Fulton Family YMCA.

Both teams finished in the lower tier of the Women’s Blue Chip Basketball League’s Carolinas Division, which means that neither team will make this year’s playoffs.

Former Winston-Salem State star Vontisha Woods turned in her best-ever performance with the Lady Warcats.

Woods, a 5-feet- 11 forward who is in her third year with this team, dominated with a career-high 33 points on 15-of-17 field goal shooting.

Woods wasn’t a solo act.

Point guard Cierra York (5-of-8 from the field) provided ample assistance with 26 points, which included a perfect 10-for-10 showing at the free throw line.

Aside from Woods and York, the Lady Warcats got solid contributions from Chevena Pickard and Desiree Drayton, who scored nine points apiece.

“Vontisha was exceptional,” said Coach Chris Geter of the Lady Warcats, who finished the season at 4-5. “She got out and filled the lanes nicely. All season long, she has provided whatever her team needed, and today was no exception. She’s the one who keeps it all together for this group.”

Initially, it appeared that USA Elite might provide a thorough test for the home team.

With six minutes left in the second quarter, the visitors led 24-18.

But over the next two minutes, Woods scored four points in a 6-0 Lady Warcats run to tie the game at 24. 

From that point on, Winston-Salem started to gain momentum and took a 38-33 lead at the half.

As things turned out, that quick spurt was the spark the Lady Warcats needed.

Fueled by its stifling defensive pressure, Winston-Salem seized control by forcing turnovers, which led to multiple fast-break points in transition.

For the game, Geter’s team shot 66 percent from the field.   

“Our intensity was the best that it’s been all season,” said Woods, who also grabbed four rebounds. “Once we fell behind by a few points (in the second quarter), we knew we had to put a stop to what was happening.   

“We had to pick up the intensity and we kept it up for the rest of the game. Our defense makes us good offensively. Not only did we communicate with each other like we’re supposed to, but we shared the basketball.”

At the start of the third quarter, USA Elite (1-7) was still within striking distance of the lead, but only for about three minutes.

With Adrienne Terrell, Alisha Mosely, Catrina Dalton, Pickard and Drayton, taking turns being disruptive, the Lady Warcats continued to turn up their perimeter pressure.

Winston-Salem built its first double-digit lead of the game at 51-41 with about 4:55 remaining in the third quarter.

At the 7:42 mark of the fourth, the Lady Warcats’ margin ballooned to 72-54.

“Today, we did what we were supposed to do,” said Geter. “Playing great defense is what we do. I’m always telling these ladies to stay in attack mode. It’s like that saying that goes: If you don’t work, you don’t eat. Well, we came out and put in the necessary work on defense, so we ate pretty good.”

For USA Elite, Jazmine Charles (13 points), Hillary Walters (10 points) and Monique Floyd (9 points) were the top scorers.  

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Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

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