By Matthew Yoder
Chincoteague could not overcome cold second-half shooting Tuesday night in losing to Middlesex, 46-31.
The Ponies played a balanced first quarter. Caroline Shelley seemed to serve as the catalyst. Shelley scored on a baseline move and off a defensive board and coast-to-coast layup, but just as importantly, established herself as a strong distributor from the point, assisting layups from both Alanna Hall and Lindsay O’Shea.
As Shelley’s court vision sparked the Ponies’ play, the Chargers were served well by accurate 3-point shooting from Amber Self. Self’s instant offense was supplemented with good pace on the ball from Airiana Beverley and a commanding low-post presence from Lane Anderson. Self, Beverley, and Anderson carried Middlesex in the first half, all scoring in different ways to help secure a 7-point lead headed into halftime.
Separation came in the third quarter. It wasn’t so much that Middlesex shot lights out, but more the case of Chincoteague’s well running completely dry. A pair of free throws from Shelley 3:26 into the quarter was all the points Chincoteague would muster.
While Chincoteague languished, a pair of front court players from Middlesex, Anderson and Ellie McMinn, controlled the paint. Anderson and McMinn boxed out with great precision and left Chincoteague coach Jimmy Bloxom prompting his team, “come on, we’ve got to rebound.”
Anderson and McMinn made the most of second-chance attempts and even played a high-low game passing to one another with expert skill. The Chargers increased their lead to 15, outscoring the Ponies 10-2 in the third quarter.
Inspired play from Chincoteague in the fourth quarter led to a small cut in the lead, but despite strong efforts from Shelley and Emma Jackson, the Ponies would not climb to within fewer than 13 points. The duo of Anderson and McMinn would ultimately outscore the Ponies 14-11 in the second half. For the game, Anderson led all scorers with 14, followed closely by Self with 13 and Beverley with 10.
Bloxom was encouraged by his team’s persistence; at times the rim was just unkind to his Ponies.
“We had opportunities, I can’t get upset about the effort, they leave it on the court,” said Bloxom.
Shelley led Chincoteague in scoring with 13 points, adding nine rebounds and three assists. Jackson had 10 points for the Ponies, with nine rebounds and three blocks.
The following night, Chincoteague concluded the regular season with a 65-22 win against Arcadia on senior night. Senior Alanna Hall ended her career in the Pony Pen with a game-high 17 points and was backed by Shelley with 16 and Jackson with 12. Senior Maxine Fernandez chipped in 8 points. Bella Williams led the Firebirds with 14 points.
The Ponies now await seeding to determine their next opponent as they transition to the postseason.