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South County girls bounce back with win over Blake

Many of you read a post here about the South County girls’ basketball team’s 60-34 loss to Stonewall Jackson on Dec. 17. During that game, Stonewall Jackson guard Kyani White was fantastic, finishing with 17 points. Same for Joy Caracciolo (22 points).

But there was something in the second half of that post that I’d like to re-address here: Following the game, South County Coach Chrissy Kelly was furious. Many of Kelly’s comments weren’t suitable for print, and I chose to use the following quote here on the blog:

“They’re a better team,” Kelly said. “They have more heart than us. They have more determination. They have more desire. Their defensive pressure put us on our heels and it’s what they do. [Stonewall Jackson Coach Nsonji White's] kids are mentally tough; they got every loose ball. They were better than us.”

Kelly admittedly let her team have it after what she thought was a sub-par performance against the Raiders, mainly with respect to the Stallions' effort. And Monday, in the IAABO quarterfinals against Blake, South County responded the way any coach would like and earned a 54-46 win at C.H. Flowers High School. The Stallions advance to play two-time defending IAABO champion Riverdale Baptist Tuesday night at 7:30.

“It’s such a mental game and such a psychological game,” Kelly said. “They’ve been with me for a year and a half. I’m holding them to a different standard. You can look at me and say, ‘Man, she’s negative.’ Or you can look at it and say, ‘OK, I get what she’s saying.’

"But I told them, 'I’m not going to change my standard because you don’t like the way I’m honest.' That’s the way that I feel. It’s not always easy, but I think there’s a lot of truth to what I say. So it’s not like they can get mad at me for telling them the truth.

“I think they understand that everything I say is out of love, and that I expect them to be better than what they are. If they’re not happy with the things that I say, they have to take a look in the mirror and thinking, ‘Why is she saying this?’”

On Monday, South County came flying out of the gate and assumed a 17-6 lead after the first eight minutes; however, Blake outscored South County 28-21 in the second and third quarters and was still hanging around late in the game.

With 3 minutes 7 seconds to go in the fourth and her team trailing, 46-37, Blake’s Christine Weithman (game-high 26 points) showed why she’s so valuable to her team by banking in a shot and then converting a pair of free throws to make it 46-41 with 2:31 to go.

Fifteen seconds later, Weithman hit two more free throws to draw the Bengals to within a possession at 46-43, but South County pulled away from there thanks to a clutch three-point play from Fatu Conteh with 1:29 left.

“We were patient this game,” said junior Simone Antwi, who finished with 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting to go along with 8 rebounds. “We ran through our plays and played disciplined defense and did what we were taught.”

I also asked Antwi what it was like as a player to deal with her coach’s sharp, honest criticism and the challenge that was issued by Kelly at Stonewall Jackson.

“Some people may think it’s bad, but I think it’s a fun challenge, to play better than you did last time because we didn’t play well,” Antwi said. “It was a chance to prove ourselves and I feel like we did this game.”

By Jason Mackey  |  December 29, 2009; 10:03 AM ET
Categories:  AAA Patriot District , Girls' Basketball , Northern Region , South County  
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