Game of the Week
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Photo: Indian River's Emily Lyons grabs a rebound amidst a host of Seaford players including Chaunta Kilgoe (21) and Lyons' teammate Sierra Garrison (20).
FRANKFORD -- Seaford High School girls' basketball coach James Weardon believes the younger players on his team will become much better as soon as they get used to playing with the Blue Jays' standout seniors, Tamekia Ross and Shiree Halley.
But that hasn't been the easiest task this season.
A case in point was the Blue Jays' 41-31 victory over Indian River in a key Henlopen Conference contest on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2000.
The Blue Jays took the hard route to rising to 7-1 in the Henlopen North and 8-2 overall with the win over the Southern Division leading Indians.
After building a 23-10 halftime lead, they hung on against a scrappy Indian team with Ross on the bench for most of the second half with foul troubles.
For Indian River, their second straight loss dropped them to 5-2 in the division and 5-3 overall. They entered the night with a one-game lead over both Laurel and Milford in the Southern Division.
Getting his younger players to gel with Ross and Halley has been a chore for Weardon in his seventh season. Besides Ross' penchant for foul troubles, both players served two-game suspensions earlier in the season -- the Blue Jays split those games, losing to Caravel Academy and beating Sussex Central.
Still, they have played well enough to be on their way to a possible second consecutive Henlopen Conference championship as they were just a game behind first-place Caesar Rodney in the Henlopen North.
Against Indian River, the Blue Jays broke the game open in the first half with a trapping defense and tenacious offensive rebounding that limited the Indians to just two points in the quarter.
A 10-2 run from the first to the second quarters, capped by a pair of Ross layups, gave Seaford a 21-8 lead midway through the period. The Indians' only points in the second quarter came on a pair of Brittany Croll free throws.
The die had been cast for a more difficult second half, however, as Ross had already picked up three fouls by halftime.
In the third quarter, Ross went to the bench with her fourth foul and the Indians gradually began to cut into the lead, clawing within six points with the ball in hand twice in the period.
IR couldn't convert many of the opportunities forced by its own pressure defense, though, and by period's end, the Indians were still down 33-24.
Indian River got to within six points one more time in the fourth quarter, at 35-29 with three minutes left, but the Blue Jays scored 6 of the game's final 8 points to seal the victory.
Ross led the Blue Jays with 12 points. Halley finished with 7 points including 5 of 8 shooting from the free throw line.
Sierra Garrison led Indian River with a game-high 13 points including a three-pointer.
SEAFORD (41) -- Shirelle Tingle 3 0-0 6, Crystal Thompson 1 0-0 2, Shiree Halley 1 5-8 7, Tonya Purnell 3 1-4 7, Ebony Keaton 2 1-25, Tamekia Ross 6 0-0 12, Kadebra Brittigham 1 0-0 2, Chaunta Kilgoe 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 7-14 41.
INDIAN RIVER (31) -- Natalie Parsons 1 2-2 4, Valene Garrison 2 0-0 4, Sierra Garrison 6 0-0 13, Dayna Elliott 2 1-3 5, Brittany Croll 1 3-8 5, Emily Lyons 0 0-1 0. Totals: 12 6-14 31.
Three-pointers: Sierra Garrison.
Seaford coach James Weardon
Indian River coach Pat Kelly
Seaford coach James Weardon on this team compared to the 22-3 club that won the Henlopen Conference championship last year:
"We're really young this year. I had probably three starters who decided not to play this year that would have made us a lot better. We have excellent young kids but it's partly them growing and partly them learning how to play with Halley and Ross. Once they learn how to play with them we'll be good. We're going through some growing pains still."
Weardon on the victory:
"Any time you get a win over a very good Indian River team that doesn't quit ... they gave us everything we wanted tonight. It was a good win."
Weardon on his team holding together with Ross in foul trouble for most of the second half:
"Unfortunately over the years we've learned how to play with Tamekia because she has a tendency to get in foul trouble. I don't know what it was tonight. I don't know if she wasn't up for the game or not, but she stood flat-footed and got three quick fouls and came out in the fourth quarter and maybe it was a bad call ... I don't know ... but I told her if you get three dumb fouls for not hustling then the bad one looks really bad ... but who was bad? Not the referee, she was."
Weardon on point guard Shiree Halley's running of the team without Ross:
"Halley's a phenomenal point guard. She kind of draws the kids together. She's very competitive. She gets the ball to the ones that are open and she gets hers on the way, too."
Indian River coach Pat Kelly on his team's missed chances:
"We create those opportunities by the way we play by going after the ball and playing aggressive defense. It was a fun game. I'm disappointed the ball didn't go in like you said, but Seaford is a class group. The coaches work with the girls and do a nice job. They have a couple of super seniors."
Kelly on the Indians' comeback from a slow start:
"I'm proud of the way the kids played after the first quarter considering they were down. We had the game right there a couple of times where we could have cut it to 3 or 4 or 6 points and we're right back in the ballgame. I'm proud of the intensity and hard play that our kids bring to the table. If the kids do that we'll be okay."
Kelly on Seaford's Tamekia Ross and Shiree Halley:
"Ross is a nice player. She can play at the next level. She's strong, she's agile. She has a nice rhythm to her play and she likes to play. She needs to make sure she does what she needs to in the classroom and she'll get an opportunity at the next level. She'll probably have to step out to the perimeter more depending on what level she goes to. Halley can play, too. She can shoot, and she's strong. She's an excellent foul shooter and she showed that tonight. They're both good players."
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