By Brennan Waldorf
The Arcadia Firebirds are on a roll to start the season, winning back-to-back district road games. The Firebirds traveled to Eastville Dec. 10 and edged the Jackets on their home court by one point before flying into Onley to face off against the Warriors. The Firebirds sit atop the district standings and are 3-0 after beating all their opponents on their home courts.
Penalties in the first half was the difference maker in the rivalry game as the Warriors committed several fouls that sent the firebirds to the charity line. The first quarter closed with a score of 13-8 as the Firebirds went almost perfect at the line knocking down 89 percent of their free throws on nine attempts compared to Nandua’s two attempts. The Warriors committed seven fouls in the first quarter alone, nearly the same number of fouls the entire game against Norfolk Christian. Arcadia’s defense in the first half pressed the ball and trapped often, which caused several turnovers partnered by multiple travel violations by the Warriors.
The second quarter opened with Lethon Williams scoring in the lane with a wide-open feed from Jaden Hope from the baseline. Foul trouble continued for the Warriors. With10 team fouls after 1:26 in the quarter, they had a total of 21 compared to Arcadia’s 13. Both teams managed equal attempts and shooting percentage from the line, but Arcadia’s 8-point stretch was the difference-maker in the quarter. The half would end with Williams nailing his free throws after being fouled on a drive with Arcadia up 39-28.
The second half saw a major reduction in fouls on both teams with Arcadia leading the entire half. Nandua closed the gap in the half by sending double defenders and causing turnovers of their own and fighting for rebounds. The Firebirds seemed to always have an answer though as they spread the ball around with several player attacking and making difficult off-balanced shots.
With 2:46 remaining in the game, the score was 57-52 and the Warriors’ defense was pressing, causing turnovers that stalled Arcadia’s attack. The Warriors had several opportunities to steal the game, finding open shooters that sent the crowd into a roar but inability to knock down the shots led to their demise. With 1:25 left in the game Arcadia’s Kylen Wharton hit a 3 from the corner, pushing their lead 60-52. The Warriors down still had life in them, setting up a play that found a wide-open Malik Battle but his 3-point effort rimmed out. This led to another Lethon Williams fast break layup that put the game out of reach. Arcadia’s ability to stretch the floor and get to the line was a key factor in its 64-55 victory.
Lethon Williams led the Firebirds with 17 points, followed by Tiair Bibbens and William Scarborough who each had 10.
Nandua’s Gearald Pitt led all scorers with 31 points, accounting for over half of the Warriors’ points, followed by Jaquan Jones and AhkTavius Harmon who recorded 7 apiece.