Fluco girls head to Regionals

Fluco girls top Monticello

Head to Regional tournament

By Duncan Nixon, correspondent

In the opening round of the Jefferson District’s year-end tournament, the Fluco girls’ basketball team hosted the Monticello Mustangs on Friday (Feb.  8). Early in the game, the Flucos had trouble pulling away from a team that they beat twice in the regular season. However, a solid third quarter performance, followed by an effective slowdown in the fourth quarter, led to a 38-26 victory. This win qualifies the Flucos for the Region 3 Class C tournament.

Photo by Flying Flucos Sports Shots

The scoring started very slowly, as both teams moved the ball carefully and had trouble getting their shots to fall. The Flucos were pressing effectively and dropping back into a man-to-man defense. Fluco junior forward Mya Wright started the scoring with a lay in, but it was almost six minutes before the Flucos scored again. Late in the quarter junior guard Nevaeh Ivory made a short jump short for a 4-3 lead. As the quarter ended, junior guard Maggie Wentz made one of two from the line and with only a few seconds left in the quarter. Freshman center Khamare Steppe put back a rebound for a 7-5 lead at the buzzer.

The second quarter opened with Steppe making a nice pass to fellow freshman Emma Russ for an uncontested lay-in. The quarter was a defensive struggle with neither team able to break out to any kind of lead. The Fluco were still up by two at halftime, leading 14-12.

In the third quarter, Ivory started to hit her stride. She posted eight points in the quarter on three lay-ins and two free throws: more points than the whole Fluco team had scored in either of the first two quarters. Steppe nailed a three-pointer and made two free throws, and Wright had a basket for a 15-point quarter and a six-point lead at 29-23 going to the fourth quarter.

The fourth quarter began with Ivory making one of two from the line, but Monticello responded with a three-pointer to cut the lead to four. Wright promptly responded with a three-point shot to up the lead to seven. With about four minutes to go, Coach Chad White had his squad go into a stall to protect their lead. At the high school level stalls can be effective, because there is no shot clock. However, the defense is bound to start pressing hard for steals or turnovers. To succeed with a stall, you must have solid and unflappable ball handers. Fortunately, that is exactly what White has. With point guard Jules Shepherd, Ivory and Wright handling the ball, the Flucos were able to effectively run down the clock and keep the ball out of the Mustangs’ hands.

Photo by Flying Flucos Sports Shots

The Flucos made some free throws as the clock ran down, and Steppe made a couple impressive blocks when the Mustangs did get the ball. The early three-pointer was the only basket Monticello made in the final eight minutes and the Flucos coasted to a 12-point win.

After the game, White noted that his team has been averaging over 50 points a game, but he was perfectly happy with a low-scoring win. He noted that he was very pleased with the tough play of Russ, a freshman who is getting more playing time of late. As usual, the Flucos were led in scoring by Ivory with 13. Steppe contributed 10, while Wright chipped in with nine.

With this win over Monticello, the Flucos qualified for the Region tournament, regardless of how they do in the rest of the Jefferson District play-offs.

The Region play-offs are scheduled to begin Friday (Feb. 15). The location of the Flucos’ game is to be determined. Normally, the top two teams in the Region play-off move on to the State tournament.

The Fluco boys lost 38-66 at Albemarle in their Jefferson District first round game. They hosted a Region play-in game against Monticello Wednesday (Feb. 13).

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