In 2008, the Taft and Woodward girls’ basketball teams won a combined 34 games and sat atop the Cincinnati Metro Athletic standings. Over the next six seasons, both programs have been in perpetual rebuilding mode.
On Tuesday night at Taft Arena, both teams produced efforts they hope will jumpstart their seasons.
Sophomore guard Kyrah Matthews scored 10 points including a go-ahead 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter lifting Taft to a 34-30 victory over Woodward.
“We don’t have a deep bench, but we have a deep heart,” said first-year Senators coach Rhonda Craig. “We have fight. We played all four quarters. I’m proud of them.”
Taft had lost 10 straight dating to last season but Matthews’ clutch performance along with seven points each by senior guard My’keha Smith and junior guard Ayanna Bond helped the Senators get back on the winning track.
“This (win) means a lot to us,” said Matthews. “It shows we are capable of winning.”
Woodward which went 0-23 last season fell to 0-2. But coach Alison McCarthy’s message to here team was one of encouragement.
“They didn’t win a game last year,” said McCarthy. “So our goal is to get better every game, whether we win or lose. We beat ourselves tonight with turnovers and missed shots. Those are fixable.”
Junior guard Tymacia Atkins led Woodward with 11 points on Tuesday and was its catalyst on defense.
Both teams started slow on Tuesday combining for 10 turnovers in the first quarter.
The Senators went without a field goal until fewer than three minutes remained in the first quarter. But consecutive baskets by Ta’veauna Lakes-Tatum and Bond put Taft ahead 5-2.
Atkins was everywhere for the Bulldogs early in Tuesday’s game with a block, four steals and four points in the first quarter.
Defense continued to dominate in the second quarter when junior guard Ayanna Bond’s steal and transition layup put the Senators ahead 9-8 early in the second quarter.
Craig applauded one sequence when her team grabbed three offensive rebounds on one possession before drawing a foul.
Even while the shots weren’t falling, the defensive effort wasn’t lacking on the part of either team in the first half.
The Bulldogs scored all their points from the free throw line in the second quarter. Taft took a one-point lead into halftime.
A 3-pointer by freshman guard Dontaesha Farrell started the second-half scoring for Woodward which went ahead 19-15 on a layup by Atkins.
A steal and layup by Atkins put the Bulldogs ahead 24-18 late in the third quarter.
Freshman forward Tiana Mazion scored to cap a 7-0 run to give Woodward an eight-point lead.
Senior forward Naya Brown’s layup off an assist by Atkins interrupted a Senators’ run as the Bulldogs led 29-23 with fewer than six minutes remaining.
Tuesday’s game was physical throughout. At one point in the fourth quarter, Taft’s team trainer was tending to four injured players while only two subs remained on the bench.
But, Matthews completed the Senators’ rally with a game-tying basket followed by a 3-pointer to put them ahead with 2:28 left.
“We had players out (injured),” said Matthews. “That was my time. I needed to man up.”
Woodward 8 4 14 4 – 30
Taft 7 6 8 13 – 34
Woodward (0-2) – Atkins 5 1 11, Brown 4 1 9, Shores 0 3 3, Kirksey 0 1 1, Farrell 1 0 3, Devaughn 0 1 1, Mazion 1 0 2. Totals: 11 7 30.
Taft (1-3) – Bond 3 1 7, Matthews 4 1 10, Walker 1 0 2, Smith 3 1 7, Lakes-Tatum 1 0 2, Brown 2 1 5. Totals: 14 4 34.
3-pointers: W 1 (Farr), T 1 (Matthews).