Story and Photos by Rusty Ellis
The Upperman Lady Bees locked down on defense in the second half of their 50-37 win over Cumberland County on Tuesday.
The Lady Bees got off to a good start on offense, building a 14-7 lead before a Lady Jet three trimmed it down to 14-10 at the end of the first quarter. The two defenses began to take over in the second, as the Lady Bees maintained a slim 23-21 lead at the break.
The third quarter saw Upperman pull away, as they outscored the visitors 12-3 to push the advantage to 35-24 heading into the final frame. There, the Lady Bee defense held the Lady Jets at bay on offense and ended the night with a 50-37 win.
Brooklyn Crouch led the way with 18 points, while Abigail Johnson added 13 points. Jayla Cobb rounded out the trio in double-digits with 11 points of her own, as she and Emma Conradi also helped lead a dominant defensive effort for Dana McWilliams’ squad.
“We held them to three points in the third…they’re a good team,” McWilliams said. “We gave up a little bit late there, didn’t clean it up like we should have…it wasn’t easy, I can tell you that.”
Conradi in particular put together an effort that you wouldn’t see in a box score, as she nabbed seven rebounds and made some key defensive plays late to help the Lady Bees seal the win. In McWilliams’ words, she’s another player that’s figuring out her role and playing it to a great extent.
“It gets unnoticed a lot, but Emma Conradi made some big plays tonight,” McWilliams said. “We need a big defensive play? Here she comes…she made some free throws when we needed them. She played her role very well, she made some big plays which don’t always show up in the stats. It’s the little stuff.”
The Bees fell just short in their shorthanded effort to Cumberland County 58-56.
The Jets came out hot from three in the first, and it saw them build a 20-12 lead heading into the second quarter. Upperman began making some strides on offense in the second, as they outscored Cumberland 21-19 and cut the deficit down to 39-33 at the break.
The third saw more back-and-forth action and Upperman cut the lead down to a single possession before the Jets pushed it back to 49-43 at the end of the frame. The Bees continued to battle late and had a couple opportunities to tie the game, but fell just short 58-56.
A.J. Nash led the way with a game-high 21 points, while Hayden Petty added nine for Bobby McWilliams, who raved about his team’s effort despite the outcome.
“My kids played hard, and they played well,” McWilliams said. “We made some crucial mistakes down the end…we missed a couple box-outs and they end up getting points late. We made enough plays to get back in the game.”
Rex Davis and Jyron McClellan were unable to play for different reasons, but the Bees got contributions from different players stepping up. It proved once again to be enough to get them back in the game, though McWilliams says they just couldn’t get that one more play they needed.
“Not having Rex, not having Jyron, that hurts our depth,” McWilliams said. “We just came up one play short down the stretch, but I’m proud of our kids. I thought we battled and competed hard.”
The Bees’ next game will be on Friday, when they head to Livingston to take on the Wildcats.