Lady Hilltoppers advance
The SMAC Tournament kicked off Monday night as the Hilltoppers hosted the Chase Trojans. The contest was never in doubt as the Hilltoppers dominated the opening round match with a 72-36 victory.
The Hilltoppers showed why they were heavily-favored as they set the tone early. Hot shooting by Alyssia Watkins and Te’Ja Twitty provided the offensive spark needed to build a quick 21-10 lead in the first quarter.
Coach Darius Fuller unleashed a stifling press that his Hilltoppers squad worked to perfection. Chase committed five consecutive turnovers during one stretch in the first half. The Hilltoppers capitalized on these with several easy buckets.
“We ran four different presses just to see if we could
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use some of them down the road,” Fuller said. “We ran about five different defenses and they all looked pretty good.”
Watkins’ 18 first-half points set the tone for the Hilltoppers. However, she was not alone, as five other players scored in the first half to secure a 45-24 halftime lead.
The freshman Twitty opened up the third quarter with an easy three-footer on the first possession. A quick steal and putback by Twitty stretched the lead to 49-24.
The Hilltoppers outscored Chase 17-4 in the third to put the game out of reach with Twitty scoring 10pts in the quarter.
“She’s a beast,” Fuller said. “She can shoot, she can pass, she can handle the ball. She can do it all.”
Fuller emptied his bench with 6:10 left in the fourth quarter as both teams went deep into their bench.
Chase’s Haley Wood closed out the scoring with a long 3-point shot as the Hilltoppers prevailed 72-36.
Watkins led all scorers with 25
Kendra Holcombe and Kaitlyn Smart led the effort for Chase as they battled until the final buzzer.
“Two very coachable players. Any coach would be happy to have them on their team,” Chase head coach Todd Davis said about his senior leaders.
“We (are) going to have a really tough road. I don’t want to give out any predictions. I just believe in this team,” Fuller said after the win.
Central will play the winner of tonight’s East Rutherford/Burns matchup Thursday night at 6 p.m. at Freedom.