Lady Eagles Bring Home Holiday Hoops Hardware

Team captain Carson Justice, a junior, drives to the basket to put up a lay up with her left hand over the Ben Lippen defender.

Following three days of first semester exams, the Richard Winn basketball teams headed into the Christmas break with two holiday tournaments ahead of them to close out the 2012 year. Coach Jason Haltiwanger’s varsity girls, sporting an undefeated 10-0 record, ran their record to 14-0 when all was said and done over the course of two weekend tournament game competitions.

Richard Winn hosted its first Holiday Hoops tournament on Dec. 21 and 22. The RWA varsity girls faced the Lady Indians of Westminster Catawba in round one. Having previously beaten this team twice already this season, the third contest provided similar results for the Lady Eagles, who won it convincingly 56-17. Leading all scorers was RWA’s captain Carson Justice with 22 points, six assists and three blocks. Emily Brigman added nine points while teammate Alyssa Atkerson scored seven points and snatched six steals. Jaycie Johnson and Jessie Stidham contributed six points apiece. Johnson also led the team with four defensive rebounds while Stidham snagged eight offensive rebounds. Marion Walker Coleman and Bailey Taylor tallied four and two points, respectively, to finish out the 56-point total.

Advancing to the winner’s bracket in the next day’s action, the Lady Eagles faced off against the Lady Falcons of Ben Lippen, who won their match-up against Newberry in round one. This second round contest proved to be more of a test for the home team. The Lady Eagles jumped out to an early 12-6 lead at the end of the first quarter, but the Lady Falcons played the second quarter much closer, and the Lady Eagles took a seven-point lead into the locker room at half time. The Lady Eagles managed to hold off the Ben Lippen offense in the second half and outscored them by five points to hang onto the 44-32 victory and capture the RWA Holiday Hoops Championship title. Once again Justice posted the highest scoring total with 18, and Brigman followed with 10. Eight of the 10-member team scored for the Lady Eagles. Johnson added five, Taylor had four and Coleman, Atkerson and Stidham each contributed a basket. Anna Cooke made a free throw. Justice and Brigman were both named to the All-Tournament team during the awards presentations.

With 12 wins under their belts and family Christmas celebrations over, coach Haltiwanger’s team got back to work and readied themselves for the next tournament action in Newberry’s Sonic Shoot Out Holiday Tournament on Dec. 28 and 29. The Lady Eagles faced Newberry Academy on day one. This was the third time these two teams had opposed one another this season. The RWA Lady Eagles proved themselves again to be the better team in chalking up their 13th win of the season, 47-15. This time Atkerson, an eighth-grade guard, led the Lady Eagles scoring with 12, followed by Johnson with 11 and Stidham with 10. Other teammates contributing points were Justice and Taylor with five points each, Brigman had three and Cassidy Branham added a free throw. Justice led the team with five assists and tied Johnson with six rebounds apiece. Johnson also had three blocks, and Atkerson stole the ball seven times.

Round two of the Newberry Sonic Shoot Out pitted the Lady Eagles against the Lady Knights of King Academy. Once again eight team members tallied points for the RWA team en route to their 14th victory, 52-19. Justice was on top of her game once more as she was just one assist away from a triple-double. She scored 19 points, pulled down 15 rebounds, dished off nine assists and had three blocks. Johnson followed her with 13 points, six rebounds and one block. Stidham added 11 points and nine rebounds. Four players, Brigman, Atkerson, Coleman and Branham, added two points each, and Taylor hit a free throw.

The Lady Eagles are set to get under way in their first region action tonight (Jan. 4) against the Lady Griffins of Spartanburg Day School. The middle school teams will play ahead of the varsity teams with the MS girls’ tipping off at 4 p.m. at the home Eagle Nest. Then on Tuesday, Jan. 8, the Eagle teams will host all four of the Spartanburg Christian Crusader teams before traveling to compete at Mid Carolina HS on Thursday, Jan. 10.