Freedom-South Riding started four very solid seniors on the road against Park View Monday night, but it was the underclassman in the lineup that turned heads.
Jaelyn Batts, a sophomore forward averaging around 16 points a game, scored 21 points, collected 11 rebounds and even dished out seven assists to lead Freedom to a 66-29 victory. It was one of the more impressive performances of the year for Batts and the Eagles, who improved to 9-2 on the season.
Toward the end of the first quarter, it looked as if Park View (10-4) might be a pesky opponent for Freedom. But the Eagles, who have height across the board only a few teams can match, started to solve the Patriots’ zone and pull away. With the score 8-6 Eagles, Freedom point guard Sydney Kim hit Batts sneaking baseline with a beautiful lob pass for the bucket and foul. Batts missed the foul shot, but center Rose Burnham swooped in for the offensive rebound and bucket to make it 12-6.
That play was the start of a 27-7 Freedom run and it typified the evening. The shorter Patriots simply could not get the looks at the basket the Eagles could. Park View switched to a man-to-man in the second half when Freedom started to get passes through their zone, but then the Eagles were constantly able to get easy lobs at the basket off back screens.
The Patriots fought hard and took the ball more aggressively to the basket in the second half, but were often stifled by their opponents’ taller defenders. Batts had blocks on successive Park View possessions, taking one rejection coast-to-coast for the lay-up. When Batts wasn’t there Burnham or forwards Autumn Peterson and Ashley Abernathy often were.
“I’ve been preaching ever since I got here that defense wins games,” said South Riding coach Teddy Whitney after the game. “If we can hold teams to around 30 points, and we’ve been doing that this year, it makes you tough to beat. Our defense feeds our offense.”
He certainly had to be pleased with his team’s defense on Monday. The Eagles held Park View to under 20% shooting from the field and forced a fair amount of turnovers. Freedom didn’t allow the Patriots many second looks at the basket, either, out-rebounding Park View 35-24 on the evening.
Burnham finished with 10 points and six rebounds for Freedom to supplement Batts’ near triple-double effort. Kim, an excellent passer and ball-handler, added six assists. Freshman forward Brenna Haley had a nice game off the bench, contributing eight points on four of five shooting.
The Patriots, who were without head coach Lorraine Kitchen for a third game while she takes leave for family reasons, were led by senior forward Lauryn Helstrom’s ten points and five rebounds. Freshman guard Madisen Kimble (eight points) also impressed with her fearless, aggressive play. Patriots assistant coach Daniel Webb had a fairly direct answer when asked what his team needs to do to compete better with teams like Freedom.
“You don’t see too much of that kind of length around,” he said. “We just have to keep working as a team and be a family. Just keep working hard and we’ll get to where we want to be.”
stats are unofficial
|Threes: Kim 1-1, Davis 0-1, Wolin 0-2, Howell 0-3|
|Threes: Kimble 2-5, Helstrom 1-1, Adlam 1-5, Oldean-Summey 0-1|