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Chiefland girls played good basketball in their narrow 58-54 loss to Williston Thursday. Last year, the Lady Indians were less competitive than Head Coach Emily Gore would have liked; this year, with 10 on the current roster, they look athletic and disciplined, ready for their schedule.
Although Williston is the team to beat in the district, Chiefland never looked overmatched against the Lady Devils, leading 25-20 at the half and down at most 58-42 late in the fourth quarter.
“We lost our heads a little bit when they came out and pressed us,” Gore conceded afterwards. Williston coach Jason Odom had looked to force a break, and the third quarter pressure had really done it for the Devils.
“We just didn't respond they way we should have,” Gore said.
“We handled the pressure really well in the first quarter, but the next time they tried it, we cracked.”
Chiefland moved the ball well, and had three scorers: Kadijah Bowers (11), Renashia Bowers (10) and Charlene Davis (10) in double figures. The Indians played such effective defense that Williston only had three field goals in the first quarter, and had to resort to pressure of their own to even get their hands on the ball.
“I think we came out a little complacent in the beginning,” said Odom. “We were expecting Chiefland to lay down, and they didn't.”
Gore played senior point Renashia Bowers sparingly in this game, but Bowers responded big time, taking care of the ball and putting up six points in the second quarter to stamp the first half lead. It was the other Bowers, Kadijah, who was clutch in the fourth, helping the Indians bring a comeback from down and out to the brink of victory. Kadijah scored a key bucket on an inbounds play, and Jasmine Mitchem converted a three-point play to get Chiefland back in sight. Charlene Davis had a three in the waning seconds to get within four points, but time ran out on the recovery effort.
Odom said after a flat start for Williston, he was able to get the team to pull together more in the second half.
“We had to stop turning the ball over, start forcing turnovers and stop playing so timid,” he said.
“Once we started to attack the basket, we started to relax and play the game we wanted.”
Williston's Kaetta Jackson, almost invisible in the first half, exploded for 22 of her 24 points in the second half. Erica Mason and Angie McDonald, whose chip-away shooting had kept Williston in it throughout the first half, became supreme passers and found Jackson wherever she wanted the ball.
Williston's scoring party was interrupted in the fourth by Chiefland's abrupt recovery, but with a taste of the lead, the Devils were able to hang on.
“They slowed us down at the end,” Odom said, “but we picked it back up by improving our defensive play.”
Chiefland girls are at P.K. Yonge Tuesday, Dec. 2; JV at 5:30, varsity at 7 p.m.