Andes girls top JCS; Roxbury girls score win at Margaretville

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By John Bernhardt
Thursday night’s Andes girls’ basketball game with Jefferson was a litmus test of sorts, an opportunity for the young Mountaineers to gauge just how far they have improved this season. With the Andes crowd on their feet chanting A-C-S during the final minute of play, the Andes girls understood they had passed the test. Andes used an 8-of-13 effort from the foul line in the fourth quarter to edge the JayHawks, 49-43.
The victory turned around a 34-20 early December defeat at the hands of the JayHawks. The first time the two teams battled, Andes only managed two points in the first half, testifying just how far the Mountaineers have advanced.

Coss leads the way
Shianne Coss made certain it was a different story Thursday night. The Andes senior, scored nine of her game-high 20 points in the first period as the Mountaineers surged to a 13-9 lead.
Andes played almost all of the first half without sophomore center Cheyenne Weaver. Weaver, whistled with her third foul in the opening moments of the first period, was forced to the bench for most of the half.
As they have in recent contests, Jordan Day and Adriel Grapes more than compensated around the hoop. Grapes matched her season high of 11 points scored in the Mountaineers previous game. Day added seven more and pulled down several critical rebounds on both ends of the court along the way.

Tied at half
A buzzer beating JayHawk basket knotted the score at 23 at the half. Jefferson used the same script to close out the third period, a JayHawk last-second field goal inching Jefferson into the lead, 32-31.
But, the Andes girls would not be denied. Weaver adapted her game in the second half staying on the court deep into the fourth quarter, and playing tough from inside the paint. The Andes center would eventually exit on fouls but not before pulling down an offensive rebound and converting a key put back to help seal the victory.
Three of five Coss foul shot conversions and three of four Jordan Day charity shots were the difference for Andes down the homestretch.
First year Andes coach Courtney Hoyt praised every girl for their contributions. Although there names might not be found in the box score, Allison Long and Rebecca Cole provided critical moments off the bench spelling Mountaineers in foul trouble or needing a breather. Freshman Taylor Day and Cassandra Storey’s steady ball handling against the JayHawks full court press was another contributing factor.
Coss led all scorers with 20 points for Andes. Emily Wenner and Shania Speenburgh both netted 12 points for the JayHawks.
“This is a truly amazing group of girls with a “never give up” attitude that any coach would be proud to stand behind,” Hoyt empathetically stated in describing her team and the gains they have realized on the hardwoods this winter.

Roxbury girls
They have a special chemistry, a unique grit that played itself out on the soccer field this fall and is staging a return engagement this winter on the basketball hardwoods. As they did last fall playing soccer, the girls on the Roxbury basketball team keep getting stronger as the season progresses. Roxbury scored the final five points of Friday’s Delaware League contest downing Margaretville, 43-38, on the Blue Devils’ home court.
The win improved the Rocket’s DL record to 7-3 good for second place in the Mountain Division.
“As a team we’ve picked up our defensive play with Shannon Sprague and Devon Fox leading the charge,” Roxbury coach Lisa Faraci said in explaining her team’s continued improvement.

Defense helps offense
Faraci contends her team’s defensive intensity has picked up the output on the offensive end of the court forcing turnovers that the Rockets convert into scores. Center Stacey Sprague has been a scoring mainstay throughout the season for Roxbury. Sprague netted a game-high 17 points Friday, but the Rockets are getting contributions from several girls as of late.
“We have several girls who are more comfortable with the ball and gaining confidence on the offensive end,” noted Faraci. We need two or three of those girls to catch fire each game to compliment Stacey’s work around the basket.”
‘Friday night it was Shannon Sprague and Devin Fox who played those roles. Fourteen Sprague points and seven more from Fox provided added firepower for the Rockets.
It was a Sprague fourth quarter scoring explosion that turned the tide for Roxbury. Stacey scored seven and Shannon six of the Rockets 16 points in the period. Margaretville had battled back to tie the contest at 38-38 and earned a one-on-one foul shooting opportunity with just under two minutes left in the game. The foul shot missed , and Stacey Sprague closed out the scoring downing the final five points of the game. Sprague scored two hoops from around the basket on sideline out-of-bounds plays and hit one-of-two foul shots to nail down the victory.

Quick start for Devils
Margaretville raced from the gates outscoring their guests 13-8 in the first period. Cold shooting in the second quarter limited the Blue Devils to only four points with the home team still clinging to a 17-15 lead at the intermission. Roxbury made up the difference with the teams locked in a 27-27 tie after three periods of play setting up the exciting finish.
Sami Hunt had a huge night for Margaretville scoring 16 points and pulling down 13 rebounds. Cora Bruno added eight points and Cecilia Galatioto six for the Blue Devils.

Heartbreaker
It was a disappointing week for the Blue Devils. As it seems they do every winter, Margaretville battled Upper Division leader Davenport to the wire, this time losing a heartbreaking, 40-39, decision to Ray Preston’s Wildcats.
Annette Hogan hit two-of-two foul shots with 12 second left to draw the Blue Devils within a point. A Davenport player was fouled missing the front end of a one-on-one with six seconds to play. Margaretville pulled down the defensive rebound and kicked out an outlet with Hogan getting a final chance at a game winning three-pointer, the shot caroming off the back of the rim and falling away from the basket.
Hunt was an inside force again for Margaretville scoring 15 points and hauling down 15 missed shots. Hogan reached double digits scoring 10 points for the Blue Devils.