WINNSBORO — The Richard Winn Lady Eagles started this season on a winning streak as they did a season ago, but this team faces different challenges as defending SCISA AA State Champions.
This group is 4-0 after victories this week over Newberry Academy (66-23) and Calhoun. Those two wins come on the heels of an upset of AAA Hammond last week, with RWA winning convincingly 52-39. Senior guard Carson Justice led all scorers with 21 in the Hammond game.
Emily Brigman added 10 points with Jaycie Johnson chipping in seven and Jessie Stidham with eight points and Bailey Taylor with six. Hammond was led by Amelia Green’s 16 points and Trinity Johnson who added 11.
The Eagles defeated Calhoun Academy 48-23 Monday night in a game head coach Jason Haltiwanger said placed his team in pressure situations. That pressure revealed what he called some festering chemistry/attitude issues. So now, he added a stat to his sheet: a bad attitude column.
For every instance of a bad attitude he or one of the other coaches sees, a mark is placed next to the girl’s name and she has to run an “eight,” meaning eight sprints up and down the court within a specified time limit. The crazy eights made a big difference in his team’s focus and attitude Tuesday night, he said.
“The team responded to discipline and came out with a better attitude. We were much better than we were Monday night, a team making better decisions and players winding up in the right spots and the right time,” Haltiwanger said. “That positive attitude is contagious.”
Monday night he said his players became rattled in the first half. His usually poised team was not patient enough with the offense as some players looked to create their own shots instead of letting the game come to them.
While pointing out part of the challenge came from foul calls from a new way referees are calling hand checks this year, Haltiwanger said the poor production indicated his team needed more direction.
He worked with them to remain patient through three quarters, keep the game close and keep fouls to a minimum. then in the fourth quarter they opened up a trapping, pressure defense and pulled away from Calhoun.
He said the Newberry Academy Eagles had a good attack in the first half and kept the game close but in the second half RWA regrouped and clicked on all cylinders. “It is a fun game to coach when we click like that,” said Haltiwanger, a Newberry Academy alumnus.
He said his team did a great job Tuesday night in the 43-point win. He hopes now the girls understand their roles and the expectations, attitude wise and otherwise, so that this years’ team, win or lose, plays at the same high level the girls did a season ago.