Head coach Kimbo Rutledge urged his team to pick up the pace at halftime.
“I said ‘I want you to attack the basket every time,” Rutledge said. “‘If you haven’t gotten a shot, you can always dish off.’ The first thing (Danielle Richardson) did was she attacked the basket, they picked her up, she threw it back to Allie (Craft) and Allie hit a 3-pointer because when she goes to the basket everybody follows her and it opens up the perimeter. I told them they needed to hustle on the press; they were just kind of halfway. It was just the press and getting up and down the court like they should.”
Things were mostly back-and-forth in the first half.
Chambers was the first to score with a rebound and putback by Deven Still.
CVA answered with a 6-1 run started by an inside basket by Payton Stephens set up by Kaylan Rich. Danielle Richardson made a 2-point basket from the corner and then set up an inside basket for Rich while inside on a 2-on-1. Rich also had an opportunity to make it a 3-point play, but her free throw shot rattled out, putting the score at 6-3.
Shelby Hurt hit one of two free throws just before the end of the first quarter to give CVA a 7-5 lead.
Scoring continued to be at a premium in the second quarter. Rich scored inside with an assist from Allie Craft to push CVA’s lead to 10-5.
Chambers answered with four straight points. Still scored on another rebound and putback to cut the lead to 10-9.
Richardson knocked down two free throws to give CVA a 17-14 lead, but Still hit a jumper to make it 17-16 at the half.
The third quarter proved to be the difference in the game, as CVA scored more points than they had in the previous two quarters combined.
The Lady Rebels started the quarter on a 9-0 run. Rich had a steal, moved the ball ahead to Alli Tate, who gave it to Richardson for the finish. Then, Craft hit a 3-pointer with an assist from Richardson. Richardson capped the run with a steal and ensuing layup to give CVA a 26-16 lead.
“She controls the whole game because she’s always got the ball in her hands, so it’s up to her to do things,” Rutledge said of Richardson. “She makes everybody better when she’s full speed like that. All the defense kind of goes to her and then she can dish out to different place and it works out real well.”
Rich finished the quarter by hitting two free throws to give CVA a 35-24 lead heading into the fourth.
CVA started the fourth quarter with another big run, this one a 14-1 run, to more or less seal the game. Richardson hit a 3-pointer with an assist from Craft. Rich came up with a block, which led to a Richardson transition layup. Later, Richardson came up with a steal to set up Rich for a potential basket. When the shot missed, she followed it with a rebound and putback. Rich capped the run with a basket from the corner, receiving an assist from Richardson to give CVA a commanding 49-25 lead.
“I definitely trust my teammates and I know that they’re good,” Richardson said. “If they trust me, I feel like I should trust them. If I just keep dishing out to them and keep getting them experience, that will help us out in the long run for state.”
Richardson led the team with 26 points, while also contributing eight steals, five assists, and four rebounds.
Rich finished with a double-double, scoring 16 points and leading the team with 17 rebounds, while also coming up with eight blocks on defense.
“If I can get her to just go straight up and block shots, she’s tall enough and she’s got long arms, she doesn’t need to swipe,” Rutledge said. “When she goes up and blocks shots like that, they have to shoot over her. She played a great defensive game, and she has range shooting the ball. It really helps.”
Rich felt like the game was a return for her personally, as well as her team.
“We’ve been having trouble playing as a team lately, but we’ve just been passing the ball a lot more and playing together,” she said. “That’s where we get all our points is from teamwork.
Craft was also in double digits on the boards, finishing with 10 and also contributing seven points.
With the win, CVA moves to 7-5 overall. They travel to Autauga Academy tonight for an area game with tipoff slated for 6 p.m.