FORT MILL – Experience in the end was key for the Nation Ford Falcons as they swept the Catawba Ridge Copperheads in their first ever match-up on the hardwood.
Both the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams for Nation Ford beat the Copperheads at the Catawba Ridge gym recently in the school’s first-ever home basketball game. The Nation Ford girls won 55-46 and the Falcons boys’ team won 46-35.
In the boys’ game, the two teams stayed with each other in the early going, but Nation Ford’s experience played a part in them pulling away in the second half.
“Defensively, we were solid in the second half,” said Nation Ford head coach Jared Adamson. “We have a lot of respect for Coach (Brett) Childers and his program. It is a great environment to play in. We are still trying to figure some things out. We are getting there.”
Nation Ford improved to 2-3 on the season with the win, while Catawba Ridge dropped to 2-2 overall. The Falcons trailed by two after the first quarter at 12-10, but then caused eight second quarter turnovers and outscored Catawba Ridge 15-8 in the period. Nation Ford was led by senior guard Tyler Thaxton, who scored eight of his 13 points in the quarter.
In the second half, the struggles continued for Catawba Ridge as their offense rushed shots and again managed just eight points in the third quarter. The Copperheads made a run in the fourth quarter as it was Nation Ford who struggled with their shot, but the Falcons had a big enough lead to hold them off. Catawba Ridge was led by 5’8” junior guard Devante Gonzalez, who scored 13 points.
“Offensively, we were impatient,” said Catawba Ridge head coach Brett Childers. “We have to play with more patience on offense. This is our youth showing through. We have to make sure we play smart.”
The girls’ game was just as competitive and just as close in the early going. Like the boys’ game, only two points separated the teams after the first quarter with Nation Ford holding a slight lead. The Falcons had three players in double figures with senior guard Adrienne Ruffalo leading the way with 14 points. Senior Kelci Adams had 13 points and senior Denaundria Greene added 12 points. Adams scored seven of her 13 points in the first quarter. However, Catawba Ridge switched to a box-and-one on her and limited her touches for most of the second half. Nation Ford is now 4-1 on the season.
“The girls fought hard,” said Nation Ford’s first year head coach Coretta Richmond. “We outrebounded them, which helped a lot. We have a lot of work to do defensively. We look forward to getting stronger.”
Nation Ford started to pull away in the second quarter as Ruffalo scored seven of her 14 points in the quarter and Catawba Ridge struggled with their ball handling. The Falcons took an eight-point lead into the half, but allowed the Copperheads to fight back in the game in the second half.
Catawba Ridge was led by 13 points from freshman guard Elly Zeanchock as the Copperheads outscored Nation Ford 14-9 in the third quarter. Nation Ford made the necessary adjustments and again pulled away in the fourth quarter after entering the period with just a three-point lead.
Copperheads head coach Kate Edwards was facing her former team in Nation Ford where she coached the last several years. She said it wasn’t difficult for her to coach against her former team, but knew it might have been a little challenging for her team to play against Nation Ford, where some of them came from last season. The Copperheads are now 3-2 on the season.
“We just needed to get that one out of the way,” Edwards said. “A lot of our mistakes are because we are so young.”
The Copperheads now turn their attention to Fort Mill, who they will face later this week; while Nation Ford turns its attention to Byrnes.