McIntosh and Whitewater opened up the region slate with a bang, splitting a hard-fought doubleheader on the Chiefs’ home court Friday night.
The Lady Chiefs came into the game with a defensive focus, and it worked as they pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 57-45 victory.
“They’ve got a couple real good seniors (Jada Claude and Courtney Smith), and we knew we were going to have to stop them,” said McIntosh coach Rick Fontaine. “We have a philosophy of playing team defense. They’re going to get their points, and they’re going to get to the basket, so we have to help out and box out. It was a team defensive win.”
Offensively, the Chiefs set out to attack from the outset and put the Wildcats in foul trouble early. They worked the ball to Anna Muh in the paint, and she got to the charity stripe twice in the early moments.
The plan worked as Whitewater racked up eight first-quarter fouls, forcing a shuffling of the rotation, as the Chiefs led 13-7.
“Coming in, we said if we have chances for layups, we’re attacking,” Fontaine said. “We’re gonna put some moves on, get shots up, and hopefully get them in foul trouble. When you’ve got two players like that, any time you can get them in foul trouble, it helps.”
Jada Claude heated up at the start of the second quarter, opening the frame by twice pulling down a rebound and taking it the length of the court, once kicking it out to Courtney Smith for a 3-pointer and once taking it to the rack herself for a layup, to cut the deficit to one point.
Trailing by one at the half, Whitewater opened up a five-point lead in the second half, but the Chiefs locked in and locked down the Cats from the middle of the third quarter on. Keyed by a strong showing at the free throw line late, McIntosh iced the game in a 57-45 victory.
Rylee Calhoun led the Chiefs with 13 points, with freshman Keara Collins scoring 12 and fellow freshman Carrie Consolino posting 11.
The senior duo led the way again for Whitewater, with Smith scoring 24 points, and Claude tallying 16 points and 16 rebounds. Martina Takang added 11 rebounds.
McIntosh is now a perfect 5-0 on the season following a 48-46 win over Landmark Christian on Saturday, while Whitewater drops to 3-2.
The boys game was tight early, but the Wildcats grabbed momentum at the end of the first half, and dominated after the break in a 66-46 victory.
“I’m very proud. Coming over to a place like this on a Friday night where it’s always a very tough place to play, our kids did a heck of a job,” said Whitewater coach Matt Martin. “To hold a team like McIntosh in their own gym to 46 points, and two in the fourth quarter, is tremendous.”
Martin was especially pleased with the way his team rebounded on a short week off a tough loss to Newnan.
“They had two days to prepare after a tough loss, but they had two very good days of practice and executed the game plan,” he said. “We knew we had to shut down (Bruce Carpenter, Naj Ashley-Emory, and Wyatt Patton).”
The inside combo of Omar Ndengey and Josh Marks were dominant down low, and Martin singled out senior forward John Solomon as another key contributor.
“Solomon did a heck of a job,” he said. “He came in and guarded Bruce and frustrated him a little bit.”
A back-and-forth battle through much of the first two quarters, McIntosh held a four-point lead and looked to head into the locker rooms feeling good, but CJ Jackson drained a fadeaway 3-pointer at the buzzer to pull back within 32-31 on a wave of energy.
Renewed, the Cats locked down on the defensive end, allowing just 14 second-half points. The pressure applied in the fourth was especially suffocating in the final frame, as they allowed only two points and pulled away.
“We challenged them at the end of the third quarter that we had to team rebound.”
Bruce Carpenter led the way in the loss with 16 points, and Nah Ashley-Emory added 10. Wyatt Patton posted 9 points and 10 rebounds.
The win runs Whitewater’s record to 2-3 and drops McIntosh to 1-3.
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