By JONATHAN GREENE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
ROCKY GAP, Va. —
Tazewell got off to a quick start and never looked back against Bland County.
The Lady Bulldogs jumped out to a 21-0 before the Lady Bears were able to score as they cruised to a 63-12 victory on Friday night at Rocky Gap High School.
“The girls did a phenomenal job getting after it,” Tazewell head coach Jason Southworth said. “I wish I could have that effort every night. If we can keep that up and keep it moving, we'll be okay. Everybody played hard. Not just one or two, but everybody.”
Tazewell (4-4) put constant pressure on Bland County (1-4) right from the start. The Bears struggled to handle it as they had were plagued by several costly turnovers which turned into Bulldogs baskets.
“We're really young,” Bland County head coach Jason Lambert said. “When your older players get into foul trouble, you have to rely on your sophomores and it's a lot of pressure on them. Their minds are going a hundred miles an hour especially with the speed of the game.
“We did struggle. I told my girls no matter how bad the game was, there are worse things. We'll recover.”
Tazewell won the tip and wasted little time getting on the board. Whitney Saunders hit a three less than 10 seconds in. After free throws by Taylor Catron and Autumn Hash, Saunders connected on her second three to make it 9-0 less than two minutes in.
As the turnovers continued to add up, the Bulldogs lead expanded. Saunders hit Haley Bradshaw on the fastbreak to push the advantage to 17. A three by Haley Christian made it 21-0 midway through the second before Bland's Danielle Russo connected on two free throws to get the Bears on the board.
“I had to have girls play different spots that they're not accustomed to and it showed,” Lambert commented. “Like I told them, you never know when something will happen. Last night, my back-up point guard dislocated her knee. Tonight, I had to put someone else in. That's a learning experience for us. We'll pick up the pieces and work hard.”
Kristin Dillow nailed a jumper from the corner for Bland's first basket with three minutes left in the half. Saunders answered with a drive to the basket and the Bulldogs went on a 7-0 run to take a 28-4 advantage into the break.
“Anytime you're playing away, it's nice to get up and get nice lead,” Southworth said. “I kept switching defenses, they executed and we're able to get out in transition. It was basic fundamental basketball.”
The Bears offense found a little rhythm in the third quarter with Lindsey Dean nailing two jumpers from the corner and Amber Eaton adding a basket of her own.
Bland's run though was surrounded by two Tazewell runs. The Bulldogs opened the third on an 8-0 run before the Bears scored six of the next eight. Tazewell would put the game away though with an 11-0 run to make it 49-10 after three.
With the game in hand, both teams rotated in their bench as the Bulldogs limited Bland to just two points the final frame.
“Hopefully, we don't get frustrated too much,” Lambert said. “I don't think we'll have any team in single A as good as Tazewell or Richlands. I don't think we'll face anybody better than those two.
“There are whole lot worse things going on today than losing a basketball. Tonight we looked bad, but I think tonight might make us better.”
Catron paced Tazewell with 15 points. Saunders was right behind her with 14 including two three's. Christian and Karie Sapp each chipped in with 10.
“When [Saunders] shoots the basketball, it opens up everything for us,” Southworth said. “She struggled shooting the ball last year. She's shooting a whole lot better this year. It just opens up everything. She can penetrate. Now, she can she shoot. Makes a world of difference.”
Dean's four points led Bland.
Both teams return to action Wednesday at the George Wythe Tournament.
At Rocky Gap High School
Taylor Catron 15, Whitney Saunders 14, Haley Christian 10, Autumn Hash 7, Karie Sapp 10, Kaley Holloway 2, Haley Bradshaw 4, Essence Brown 1. Totals- 17 17-29 63.
BLAND COUNTY (1-4)
Julia Davis 2, Lindsey Dean 4, Amber Eaton 2, Danielle Russo 2, Kristin Dillow 2. Totals- 4 4-7 12.
Tazewell.............................13 15 21 14 — 63
Bland County......................0 4 6 3 — 12
3 pt field goals: T 4 (Catron 2, Saunders 2); BC none.