The problems started early for Western and kept on coming. Foul problems, injuries, offensive issues. Despite all of that trouble, the Doves held the lead into the fourth quarter of Thursday’s Class 4A state semifinal with C.H. Flowers.
But No. 7 Western was not able to finish the job. C.H. Flowers rallied in the fourth quarter, took the lead and then hung on for a 53-49 victory over the Doves at Towson University’s SECU Arena.
Western got into foul trouble early in the game, and those issues never went away. Two Doves fouled out, and another had four fouls as the Jaguars took 44 free throws (but made only 23) while Western was given just 18 foul shots.
That disparity infuriated the Doves, and they talked about it for several minutes after the game. The injuries hurt also as they lost starting guard Sanaya Gray (eight points) with a shoulder injury (the medical staff would not let her return) in the first half.
Also, Vashae Rideout, who led Western with 10 points and 10 rebounds, wound up with a cut on her lip, and Gabrielle Johnson might have dislocated her kneecap. All of those injuries forced players to the sidelines and hurt the Doves.
It all left Western (22-5) a frustrated team Thursday afternoon.
“I’m hoping and praying that everyone is OK,” Western coach Tasha Townsend said. “The girls fought [through], and they play through adversity. My goal is for them to play hard… and that’s what they did.”
Ny’Ceara Pryor took over a point guard and finished with nine points, eight rebounds and three assists after Gray went down in the second quarter. Pryor repeatedly drove and got to the bucket – the problem was Western could not make enough shots.
Western shot 27 percent from the floor (17-for-62) while Flowers hit 28 percent (15-for-53). Despite all of the problems, especially losing players to injuries, the Doves kept battling and led for almost the entire game until that fourth quarter.
“We played hard the whole game,” Pryor said. “I feel like we played through the injuries."
In the end, though, as the players kept going to the sidelines due to foul or health issues, Western’s control of the game slowly slipped away. The Doves held a 27-22 halftime lead but needed to work to get through the hounding full-court pressure defense C.H. Flowers showed them.
Western finished with 24 turnovers (the Jaguars committed 23) but C.H. Flowers slowly took charge in the fourth quarter.
A 7-0 run from the Jaguars early in the fourth quarter gave C.H. Flowers (23-4) the lead for good at 42-38 midway through the period, and Western (22-5) just could not catch up as its offensive troubles continued.
Plus, C.H. Flowers made it to the foul line 18 times in that one quarter. The Jaguars made only 10 but that was enough to hold off Western. They also got a big effort from 5-foot-10 guard Kaniyah Harris, who finished with a game-high 24 points and 14 rebounds.
Harris scored 12 of her points in the fourth quarter and helped carry C.H. Flowers to victory. The Jaguars kept grinding on defense throughout the game.
“Western is a really tough team,” C.H. Flowers coach Rod Hairston said. “We have a lot of players that are equal in skill and in size. We want to try and tire the other team out.”
W - Hawkins 7, McMurray 2, Rideout 10, Fisher 4, Gray 8, Pryor 9, Burden 2, Reynolds 2, Johnson 5. Totals: 17 9-18 49.
C - Harris 24, Hilton 12, Nzerue 6, Robinson 2, Ware 3, Robinson 4, Young 2. Totals: 15 23-44 53. Half: W, 27-22.