The Sonoraville Lady Phoenix are rolling into the new year with a bit of momentum after stifling the opposing offense and piecing together a handful of timely scoring stretches to top the Allatoona Lady Buccaneers 46-32 in Thursday’s Phoenix Holiday Classic contest.
Sonoraville (7-3) was anchored by a 13-point performance by sophomore power forward Maliyah Parks, who gave Allatoona (1-9) trouble all evening in the low post by contesting shots, drawing fouls and snagging plenty of impactful rebounds.
“After a little bit of a slow start, Maliyah really played well in the second quarter and throughout the second half, and she was our most consistent scorer tonight like she has been all season,” Sonoraville head coach Stephanie Caudell said. “We lean on her, and she is someone we know will come through for us on both ends of the court.”
Sonoraville was also boosted by nine points from freshman small forward Alexa Geary and nine points from junior guard Grace Darnell.
Both squads deployed stingy defense in the first quarter, which concluded with the score knotted at 8-8. The Lady Bucs opened the game on an 8-3 run through the first handful of minutes led by Sammy Roembke, who had a team-high 12 points in the period. However, the Lady Phoenix responded with a 5-0 sequence by Darnell that included knocking down a long 3-pointer and earning three free-throws on a shot at the buzzer.
The second quarter of play resulted in more of the same back-and-forth action, with Allatoona jumping slightly ahead and Sonoraville answering. By the end of the period, Sonoraville strung together enough made shots for a 13-6 run that secured a 21-14 lead at the break.
“We came out a bit sluggish and rusty, but that is to be expected with the time off for the holidays,” Caudell said. “I think we were able to pick up the pace as the game went on because our defense did a great job of keeping their offense ineffective.”
The Lady Phoenix expanded its lead 31-21 as the third quarter drew to a close due to a seven-point stretch from Parks coupled with the team’s ability to clamp down defensively on Allatoona’s top shooters.
The Lady Bucs made a short-lived offensive push in the final quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers from Roembke and guard Lauren Bolden, but Sonoraville converted enough late free-throw attempts to maintain a comfortable lead and snag the victory.
“Overall, I am very happy with the win,” Caudell said. “All season we have been a great third-quarter team, and we typically find success in the second half. The key for the rest of the season is going to be our ability to start games as strong as we finish them.”
Sonoraville is home again on Friday for the second day of the Phoenix Holiday Classic against Ridgeland at 6 p.m.
In the Sonoraville boys’ game in the nightcap of the Phoenix Holiday Classic:
Section (Ala.) 69, Sonoraville 68
The Holiday Classic opener for the Phoenix turned out to be nothing less than a down-to-the-wire thriller between two sharpshooting, quick-striking teams, however Sonoraville’s comeback attempt fell just short in a narrow 69-68 loss to the Section (Ala.) Lions.
From the opening tip, both teams operated a swift offensive pace and utilizing precise long-range shooting to generate space on the floor and apply pressure on the opposing defense.
The contest proved to be a tight one early, with the score tied 17-17 after one quarter.
The competitive, back-and-forth action spilled into the second quarter, with neither team gaining much separation as Section took a slim 35-32 advantage into the halftime locker room.
“This team was a solid offensive team that had multiple guys on the floor that could step out and shoot it and run the break, so overall this was a good test for us defensively,” Phoenix head coach Brent Mashburn said. “I thought we did a good job of matching their pace.”
Sonoraville (10-2) suffered from a lethargic start to the second half as the Lions ramped up its defensive intensity. The Phoenix fell behind by as many as 12 points at one point in the period, but were kept afloat by the precise shooting of guard Wil Walraven, who chipped in eight of his 19 points in the third, and guard Trenton Daniel, who drained a 3-pointer that helped spark a 9-2 Sonoraville run that closed the quarter.
“To beat a good basketball team, you have to be good for the full 32 minutes instead of just short stretches of time,” Mashburn said. “But I was proud of the way they battled back, and I thought we put together a nice run and made a lot of quality shots heading into the last quarter.”
Although the Phoenix were down 53-48 headed into the final eight minutes, the team continued to display poise and resiliency. With Walraven contributing eight fourth-quarter points, Daniel knocking down a pair of late 3-pointers and center Chris Rush chipping in a couple of rim-shaking dunks, Sonoraville pushed the game to a 68-68 tie with less than one minute remaining.
After a series of clutch plays by both teams, the Phoenix were tasked with making one more defensive stop with the game on the line. The team initially smothered Section point guard Bryson Woodall, but fouled him on a lay-up attempt with just four seconds remaining. Woodall missed the first, but scored the most important point of his 16-point total on the second attempt to give the Lions a one-point advantage.
With less than four seconds remaining, Walraven was able to slice through the Section full-court press all the way to the 3-point arc, but didn’t have quite enough time to get off a clean shot as time expired.
Despite the loss, there is a lot to build from going forward for the Phoenix. In addition to Walraven’s 19 points, Daniel finished with a game-high 23 points. Rush also pitched in 16 and forward Lucas Brooks added 10.
“I thought we had some guys step up and contribute some great individual performances,” Mashburn said. “Our balance offensively between those guys has gotten us to where we are now, and we have to maintain that balance the rest of the season.”
Sonoraville is home again on Friday for the second day of the Phoenix Holiday Classic against Ridgeland at 7:30 p.m.