By Matthew Yoder
Casey Cordrey’s patient team-building process nearly netted early season results, but Nandua held off a spirited effort from Arcadia to escape with a 25-24 win in Oak Hall last week.
The first quarter was evenhanded as the teams sought to find their identities. Arcadia effectively drew fouls, giving credence to aggressive play on offense. Bella Williams and Tiana Bagwell led the effort for Arcadia, securing points from the free-throw stripe, and in Bagwell’s case, a made shot from a devised inbound play.
The lead changed hands a number of times in the second quarter. Williams made a pair of shots for the Firebirds, and Teyanna Tazewell helped bring Nandua back in line with a timely layup. The quarter was especially scrappy and ended with scoring in the paint for Nandua, who headed into halftime 13-12.
The game got incredibly tight as the clock ticked down, and baskets really came at a premium. There was little movement in the third quarter. The teams clamped down on defense, and for Arcadia the rim was unkind, as they witnessed several shots closely rattling out. Nandua entered an electric fourth quarter up 3 points.
The Warriors opened the scoring, stretching the lead to 5, a number robust for this game, but Bagwell responded with a good drive, in which she grabbed her own miss and scored while getting fouled. She missed the free throw but it was apparent the energy Cordrey’s team was displaying fueled his own emotions.
The Warriors attempted to play the possession game, rotating the ball among their five on court, but the Firebirds intended to stay aggressive.
“Run the clock,” said Nandua coach, Lynn Williams.
Meanwhile, Williams fought hard, drew a charge at midcourt, then made a 3-point shot for Arcadia, drawing to within two at 23-21.
The opposing coaches partook in playful, heated banter and Nandua started to appear rattled. The Warriors made several miscues handling the ball, and Williams intercepted a pass, drove coast to coast and converted a layup, getting fouled in the process. Williams kept her poise, made the free throw and with 1:46 left in the game moved her team into the lead.
Shortly thereafter Nandua regained the lead after Sara Taylor scored of an offensive rebound.
Eighteen seconds remained. Cordrey gathered his team in a timeout, but the Firebirds were slow out of the huddle and were assessed a delay of game penalty, forgoing possession. Nandua’s jitters got the better of them as well, and an over and back returned the ball to Arcadia with 11 seconds in the game.
Again, Cordrey brought his team to the sidelines, drew up a play. His team executed to his wishes, but fell just short of snatching victory.
“They played all the way through to the end, they ran the play it as they should, they just didn’t get the open look,” said Cordrey.
Nonetheless, the game was entertaining, a great step forward for a young Arcadia team and their optimistic coach.