James River GBB opened their home slate on Wednesday night with 37-32 win over a tough and skilled L.C. Bird team. The RTD posted the write-up below on the game:
Early on in a girls basketball season which few players and teams had the opportunity to fully prepare for, grit, as opposed to skill, will decide wins and losses, according to James River coach Henry Schechter.
“I think everyone is in the same boat, we’ve talked about that,” Schechter said Thursday night after his Rapids ground out a hard-nosed, rugged 37-32 win at L.C. Bird.
“Nobody really had a chance to play much over the summer. There’s some kids who played a little bit in the fall. But for most teams, skill-wise, I think it’s going to take a few games for people to catch up. So early in the year, it’s about who wants to compete. The grit teams are going to have more success.”
Both James River (2-0) and Bird showed their fair share of grit in a back-and-forth contest featuring constant lead changes and ample physicality. Before the fourth quarter, neither side led by more than 4 points.
Two underclassmen — Rapids sophomore guard Arshae Jackson and Skyhawks freshman guard Trinity Dale — stole the show offensively.
Dale finished with 14 points, including four 3-pointers, one of them a clutch spot up shot from the top of the key to keep Bird (0-2) alive in the game’s waning moments when it looked like James River was nearly in the clear.
Bird senior forward Ta’Nya Outten added 8 points, most coming in the post off of savvy, back-to-the-basket spin moves and fadeaways.
“Arshae is a star on the rise, and she’s confident with the ball,” Schechter said. “When it’s crunch time at the end, she’s the one that we need to handle the ball.”
Jackson said she could sense the need to slow things down at the end of a frenetic contest.\
“Just to be calm, just to be there and let my teammates know that we’re OK and we can do this,” Jackson said of her mindset in the fourth quarter.
About 20 spectators watched from the stands, all masked and socially distanced. And from the bleachers came, on multiple occasions, what would prove to be a prophetic maxim: “Free throws win games.”
The teams combined to shoot 48 free throws, 24 a side. And perhaps even more important than Jackson’s drives or Dale’s jumpers was the clip at which each team hit from the charity stripe — the Rapids made 21 (88%), the Skyhawks just eight (33%).
But Jackson said her team’s intensity and communication were the difference. The James River bench was far and away the loudest group in the cacophonous Chuck Tester Gymnasium, something Schechter said is key for his young team.
“Just letting everyone know that we needed to turn up (the intensity) in order to win this game,” Jackson said of her team’s communication and grit in the second half.
“We were being outhustled (in the first half), and we just needed to turn up.”
Jenna Rieck and Katrina Scholtz scored 6 apiece for James River. Najla Adeyola had 4 points, in addition to a handful of key, instinctive steals where she jumped into passing lanes and created transition opportunities for her teammates.
Aliyah Elliot chipped in 5 points for Bird, and senior guard Alexis Miller, a key piece for the Skyhawks, was held to 2. Bird did not dress four players due to injury, and was forced to play with a shortened rotation.
James River 6 9 14 8 — 37
L.C. Bird 7 10 6 9 — 32
JR: Arshae Jackson 16, Jenna Rieck 6, Katrina Scholtz 6, Najla Adeyola 4, Sophia Graziano 3, Sanai Massenburg 2. Totals: 8 21-25 37