Eagles beat ’Lopes by 1 in league hoop opener
Lancaster holds off AV in Golden League opener
By JOHN SANDERS Valley Press Sports Correspondent
LANCASTER — You didn’t have to be a prophet to know where the ball was going.
You didn’t need to be a prognosticator to know who was going to shoot the last shot.
It was the look Antelope Valley High wanted.
When Niya Price grabbed the rebound and drove the length of the court, down by one point, fans literally held their breath.
Price entered the key, did kind of a Euro step but missed the layup in traffic with 2.1 seconds remaining.
The Lancaster girls’ basketball team grabbed the rebound and time expired as the Eagles escaped with a thrilling 63-62 victory over AV High, in the Golden League opener for both teams, Tuesday evening at Antelope Valley High School.
“This was a total team effort,” Lancaster’s Brianna SaMarion said. “We kind of struggled in the beginning. Our shots started falling and we ended up with the win.
“This feels great. We know we still have things to work on, but this type of win builds character for our team. We must take this
as a lesson.”
The Eagles (5-1, 1-0) held a seemingly comfortable lead 6352 following a SaMarion bucket with 2:30 remaining. That would be Lancaster’s final points.
Then the ’Lopes (3-1, 0-1) began to take over.
AV High trailed 63-56 before Arionna Soil netted a 3-pointer, trimming the lead to 63-59 with 80 seconds remaining. Following a turnover by the Eagles, one of their 17 on the night, Soil con
verted the old-fashioned 3-point play as the ’Lopes inched closer, 63-62.
“It’s really disappointing because who likes to lose?” said Soil, who finished with 16 points. “Lancaster is a good team, but we thought we had it. We must improve our defense and continue to get better as a team.
“Both teams played as hard as they can. We wanted it bad, and we tried our hardest.”
On Lancaster’s next possession, it was as if somebody put a lid on its basket. The Eagles missed three easy shots underneath the basket before AV High grabbed the rebound. With 30 seconds remaining, Soil missed a 3-pointer in the corner.
The Eagles played a game of cat and mouse with the ball until freshman Hayden Tolbert was fouled and awarded two free throws with 8.8 seconds left. Tolbert missed both free throws before Price grabbed the rebound and drove the length of the court and missed the final shot.
“I was just thinking to get back on defense after I missed the second free throw,” Tolbert said.
SaMarion agreed. “She shouldn’t have gotten that wide open,” she said. “But we were able to pull through.”
Tolbert said her team can only get better from this point on.
“We realized at one point we were getting too comfortable,” she said. “We must make smarter plays, but this is a big win for us. It’s a good way to start the (league) season. I think it will set the tone for the rest of the season. Each tough team we continue to play will help us get better. It will help us understand each other.”
Price led all scorers with 28 points but was plagued by foul trouble. She was called for her fourth foul late in the second quarter and had to play soft defense the remainder of the game.
“This is the first time this season we’ve had to face adversity and we were able to overcome it,” Price said. “We played our hearts out, but we didn’t come out on top. Next time will be different, but it’s very disappointing.
“I think we’ll be able to bounce back. We just have to go to practice and continue to work hard. When we get deeper in the season, we’ll be a different team.”
Tolbert finished with 13 points and teammate Jazzmyne Davis had 16 points, including 12 in the first half. Amyah Smith finished with eight points and two 3-pointers for the Eagles.
Leandriah Zachry had eight points for AV High.
Alberta Newspaper Group