Woodrow Wilson might be a young team still finding itself, but one thing’s for certain.

The Flying Eagles are very good at defense, and they’re getting better all the time.

Thursday night, they disrupted Nitro’s high-powered offense, forcing numerous turnovers and holding smooth-shooting Kendra Wallace to six field goals while earning a 67-55 victory at the Raleigh County Armory.

“Woodrow played great pressure defense. They eat it up,” Nitro coach Scott Tinsley said. “They got so many transition buckets on us. Their athleticism just wore us down.”

The 3-5 Flying Eagles, who have five freshmen among their top 10 players, had performed poorly in a 54-52 overtime loss to previously winless Cabell Midland Wednesday night.

They bounced back in style against Nitro (3-6). Playing without injured three-point sharpshooter Cameisha Alexander, Woodrow depended on its fast break along with strong rebounding and defense.

Led by 12 boards from senior center Brittany Brown and nine apiece from junior Ashley Blaney, sophomore Shalonda Diggs and freshman Coleshia Gourd, the Flying Eagles outrebounded Nitro 50-22.

“Blaney can get up, Coleshia can get up and Brittany is a big presence inside,” Woodrow coach Bernie Bostick said. “And Shalonda had some crucial rebounds and played well.”

But even more impressive was the Flying Eagles’ defense, which was nearly impenetrable inside and forced the Wildcats into hurrying their shots.

Wallace, last year’s Class AAA second-team all-state captain, scored 21 points — seven under her average. Much of her scoring came at the foul line, where she was 9-for-12.

“We’ve got a freshman, Erica Staples, who lives and breathes defense,” Bostick said. “She played Wallace almost the entire game and shut her down. She can guard anybody in the state and she’s beginning to believe it, and that helps a lot.”

Wallace, a talented sophomore, connected on just two field goals in the second half.

“I tried to beat her to a spot and I tried my best,” said Staples, who had four steals and six points. “She got by me a couple of times.”

Woodrow never trailed and led 35-23 at halftime. A six-point burst by Blaney late in the third quarter and a seven-point stretch by freshman point guard Erin Reynolds to start the final period put the Flying Eagles up by 20, 57-37.

“We shot terrible. We normally shoot much better than that,” Tinsley said. “I’m going to give Woodrow credit. They forced us to shoot bad.”

Wallace scored 32 and 33 points recently in a tournament at Daytona Beach, Fla.

“Kendra’s been lighting it up,” Tinsley said. “Woodrow did a good job of defending her tonight.”

Wallace had six steals in addition to her game-high 21 points. Guard Andrea Smith scored 16 points and had four steals before suffering a thumb injury late in the contest. Chelsea Kearns finished with 11 points.

Reynolds paced Woodrow with 20 points, followed by Brown with 14, Blaney with 12 and Gourd with 11. Blaney and Diggs each had four steals.

Woodrow plays at Ripley Saturday.

— E-mail:

dstillwell@register-herald.com



Nitro

Chelsea Kearns 3 4-7 11, Morgan Snodgrass 0 0-0 0, Chelsie Hammond 1 2-3 4, Kendra Wallace 6 9-12 21, Andrea Smith 5 6-8 16, Anna Chenowith 1 0-0 2, Kayla Arthur 0 0-0 0, Holli Evans 0 1-2 1. Totals: 16 22-32 55.

Woodrow Wilson

Erica Staples 1 4-4 6, Erin Reynolds 8 3-3 20, Ashley Blaney 5 2-5 12, Alex Mahaffey 1 0-2 2, Brittany Brown 5 4-7 14, Coleshia Gourd 4 3-4 11, Shalonda Diggs 1 0-0 2, Keisha Bradshaw 0 0-0 0, Charlene Diggs 0 0-0 0. Totals: 25 16-25 67.

N (3-6) 10 13 12 20 — 55

WW (3-5) 13 22 15 17 — 67

Three-point goals: N: 1 (Kearns); WW: 1 (Reynolds); Fouled out: WW: S. Diggs.

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