Lady Flames 66
Valley Forge 55
January 14, 2014. When you shoot only 26% from the floor, you better rely on solid defense and hope you can score from the free throw line if you want to have a chance to win. Both happened as the Lady Flames pulled out a tough win against Valley Forge Christian College, 66-55, in the Piedmont International Classic.
Early in the game, Flames’ leading scorer, Ashton Johnson, went to the bench with two quick fouls with two of her teammates to follow her shortly to the bench. But, point guard, Emily Thrasher and reserves Rachel Burns and Lauren Strickland came up with several big plays while contributing quality minutes. Thrasher scored nine points during that stretch, allowing Welch to take a slim four point lead into the locker room.
Shooting improved only slightly in the second half, but Leslie Nichols was able to find her mark, scoring 13 of her 14 points in the second stanza and Johnson was able to play the rest of the game without fouling out while staying aggressive on both ends of the floor, going 10-10 from the free throw line.
But, it was down the stretch where the Lady Flames really hung tough. Trailing 50-49 with four minutes remaining, a perfect pick-and-roll play by Johnson and Nichols gave Welch the lead they would never relinquish. And, clutch free throws helped seal the deal.
“It was a total team effort,” said Coach Larry Bryan. “We shot so poorly, but found a way to win. Our bench was amazing. Late in the game, leading by three (53-50), it was Tabitha (Frady) who knocks down two huge free throws that extends the lead, making it a two possession game, and with under a minute left Amy (Picket) nails two big free throws to put the game out of reach. I am so proud of our team. It was a very physical game and we just maintained our composure.”
Statistically, there are several things that need to be noted. Johnson and Nichols led the team with 14 points apiece while Jessie Melvin and Thrasher each chipped in 11. Melvin completed a double-double pulling, down 11 rebounds and Burns added 10 rebounds.
Welch hosts Hiwassee College on Friday. Game time is set for 5:30pm.