Inconsistency has been the name of the game so far this season for Pat Deegan’s Fairfax squad. That’s to be expected, especially for a team that starts two freshmen guards as the Lady Rebels do with Melanie George and Samantha McNaughton.
The Rebels were still inconsistent at home Tuesday night against Yorktown, but they also easily played their best basketball of the young season in the first half. Fairfax played solid defense and ran a crisp motion offense early en route to a 31-12 halftime lead, and withstood a second half rally to net the win, 49-36.
Both teams played tough man-to-man in the first half, but the #15 Rebels (4-1) managed to run their offense much better than the Patriots (4-2). While Yorktown players consistently tried to drive through pressure and help defense and settled for rushed jump shots, Fairfax players shared the ball much better and got good looks at the rim. “That’s the best we’ve played so far,” Deegan said after the game. “We just introduced this offense a week and a half ago, because this year’s team seems comfortable with the off-ball, backdoor cuts. They were tonight.”
Even though Coach Devaughn Drayton’s Yorktown team came into the game with three road wins already this season, his players did not look sharp early in this one. “It was like the bus arrived late or something,” Drayton said. “This was a learning experience for our players–when you come in to play a team like Fairfax you have to understand the intensity level that they’re going to bring as soon as the game begins.”
To his team’s credit, the Patriots didn’t quit even after going down big. In the second half Drayton adjusted his lineup and applied a ton more defensive pressure, forcing turnover after turnover from the Rebels in the third quarter. While Yorktown was still finding it somewhat difficult to score, the visitors from Arlington held Fairfax to only three third quarter points, narrowing the deficit to 34-21 entering the fourth quarter.
The Patriots even clawed to 35-26 early in the fourth. But when Yorktown forced a loose ball and saved it from going out of bounds, the rock went right into the hands of Fairfax’s George. She drove straight to the hoop and was fouled for a three-point play to make it 38-26. Then, a steal and bucket from Rebels senior Natasha Porter made it 40-26, and the Patriot rally was effectively over.
What makes Fairfax a dangerous team is its potential to get contributions from almost everywhere. The Rebels’ freshmen guards have led the team in scoring so far this season, and they were proficient and composed again Tuesday night. George had 12 points and six rebounds, and McNaughton dished out four assists. “They made a statement this year from day one,” Deegan said about the talented pair. “They’re in great shape, they have great skills. But what’s best about it too is they have great attitudes–they recognize it’s the seniors’ team.”
Those seniors contributed Tuesday night as well. Shooter Karah Murphree had ten points and four rebounds. Strong rebounding guard-forward Dominique Webster had seven points and nine boards. And Porter, who came off the bench, gave the team a nice lift with seven points.
Both teams figure to improve a good deal in the coming months. Yorktown, like Fairfax, has several young pieces. Sophomores Liz Shean and Maggie Shipley are leading the Patriots in scoring so far this year, and two other sophomores and one freshman saw the floor yesterday for Coach Drayton.
Deegan, meanwhile, wants to get more Rebels into his rotation in the months to come.
“We like to get up and down the floor, so we want to expand our rotation come January,” he said. “We’re a transition team and that helps with balanced scoring.” Then he laughed. “We hope. Four or five kids score ten points a game, then there’s no box and ones. Makes us tough.”
box score is unofficial
|Threes: Murphree 1-5, George 0-1, Heslep 0-1, Webster 0-1|
|Threes: Shipley 2-6, Shean 0-4, Davis 0-1, Bournigal 0-1|