Woodlawn fired the first salvo in the District 1-4A girls’ race on Tuesday night with a dominating 67-47 win over a solid Huntington team.
The Lady Knights’ attack is built around seniors Haggar Caldwell, Rachel Elzie and Amber Cook. And despite Cook pumping in 30 points in the easy win over the Lady Raiders, it was junior point guard Brittney Kendrick who received the game ball from coach Patrick Lindsey.
“We affectionately call her ‘Half Pint,’ but Brittney plays with as much heart as anyone I’ve coached in a while,” Lindsey said. “She knocked down a couple of threes, while penetrating to get fouls, and she forced a lot of turnovers.”
The 26 Huntington turnovers, including 10 in the critical third quarter, turned the tightly fought contest into a rout by the home-standing club. Huntington led 25-24 at halftime, but the Lady Knights (6-5, 1-0) quickly turned the game into a 9-point advantage behind 9 points from Cook and a key 3-pointer from Kendrick.
“We didn’t do what we needed to do,” Huntington coach Danielle Butler said. “We turned the ball over and they took advantage, then we fouled and they made their free throws. That was the deciding factor in the game.”
The Lady Raiders (9-5, 0-1) fought back within 37-34 with two minutes to play in the third quarter, but that would be their last hurrah. Kendrick and Caldwell dropped in six unanswered free throws to end the frame and get the lead back to 43-34. Woodlawn’s 7-1 run to open the fourth quarter jumped the lead to 50-35 and it was all but over.
“Our goal coming in was to let our defense make our offense and that’s what happened down the stretch,” Lindsey said. “This was a big win for us because we have one of the toughest, most competitive districts around. There are several teams that could win it.”
Huntington’s best player, Caitlin Jenkins, got in early foul trouble, but still scored 12 first-half points to keep the game close. She was whistled for a fourth foul with a minute remaining in the third quarter and only scored five, second-half points. Elzie had similar problems for Woodlawn, but her play wasn’t as critical to the Lady Knights’ success.
“I think the foul trouble slowed Caitlin’s game,” Lindsey said. “We were fortunate that people came off the bench and made some critical plays for us.”
Caldwell tossed in 13 points for Woodlawn, while Kendrick added 12. Tenisha Briggs tied Jenkins for Huntington’s scoring lead with 17.
Huntington hosts Loyola Friday, while Woodlawn visits N. DeSoto.