Shelton State crusies to victory on Sophomore Night
By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Jeremy Bryant
In a final farewell, the sophomores shined amongst the stars in their last regular-season home game. Shelton State Community College women’s basketball dominated their matchup once more on a night the players will always remember.
The Lady Bucs defeated the Coastal Alabama-North Eagles 102-42 on sophomore night. The Lady Eagles only featured 7 players to suit up for their team, forcing them to be very conservative in how they approached the game with the fear of running out of players to foul trouble.
Shelton State would also have to play the game without guard Skye Harris, losing her to a foot injury in the previous game.
The Lady Bucs attracted a full crowd in the stands, and the only people that left disappointed were the opposing team’s fans. The starter lineup featured all of the graduating sophomores including Trinity Hambright, Taylor Smith, Ke’Ajia Williams, Kiana Montgomery and Jemeriah Moore.
The Bucs offense did not start out sharp, but the defense was stout from the beginning. They held the Eagles without a single point until 6 minutes of the game clock had been played. Hambright set the defensive tone early and gave instant energy all game. She came away with 3 steals in the first quarter, and would get two more over the course of the game.
Shelton State’s bench put their hand in the victory by putting on a show in a game that was primed for them to execute at all levels. Maya Cunningham came in and terrorized her opponents finishing the game with 16 points. Two of those points came on a buzzer-beating fastbreak layup in the first quarter. Mya Barnes had one of the best plays of the night, with her chase down block that made everyone in the gym hop out their seats.
Shelton State’s Ke’Ajia Williams might need to send an autograph to the Lady Eagle’s bench with the way she feasted on Coastal’s defense. The Lady Eagles had no answer for Williams, she scored the game’s first six points and ripped down a game high seven offensive rebounds. She pumped the crowd up with her roars of joy after each timely bucket she made.
The game was seemingly over before the popcorn got cold. The Lady Bucs jumped out to a 50-14 lead at halftime, with the help of freshman point guard Nya Valentine heating up right away off the bench. Valentine entered the game and scored seven straight points and grabbed a steal that led to fastbreak points in under 2 minutes.
The second half was just icing on the cake for the Lady Bucs. They actually could be seen at times grinning and laughing while running back on defense with the score being so lopsided. The Lady Eagles at one point found themselves looking at the scoreboard, and it read that they were down 50 points at the end of the third quarter.
The Eagles put up the best fight they could, but it just never seemed to be enough to stop the rolling freight train. The Eagle’s top post player Kadresha Smith posed a slight problem in one-on-one matchups by now letting Shelton’s post players get any easy baskets under the rim. Most of the shots taken against her were misses that turned into second chance points or third opportunities. On a night when they needed her most, Elisa Saffold didn’t see many opportunities to insert herself scoring wise to make an impact.
‘The guard play for Shelton was extraordinary for the team. They wreaked havoc in the passing lanes and applied full court pressure making their opponents think twice before making a decision, and still making the wrong one. Shelton’s guards finished with a combined 12 steals for the game.
The straw that broke the camels back seemed to happen in the middle of the third quarter. Shelton’s Rachel Early threw a behind the back pass to Valentine for a layup that led to an additional foul shot. The roof came off the building in how loud the fans became instantly entertained. Just a few seconds after the play was over, the Coastal Men’s basketball team had seen enough and exited the stands in not wanting to witness another moment of the beatdown of their school’s women team.
After the game, all the graduating sophomores were presented before the crowd along with their loved ones. The group has enjoyed a record of 49-6 thus far over the course of two years. It was also announced that one of Shelton’s assistants will also be leaving after the season to continue his education and furthering his coaching experience, becoming a basketball manager at Jacksonville State.
Shelton has one more game left on the season against Southern Union State Community College. They’ll look to finish their season off on a high note to extend their win streak to 25 games.