London girls hold off Whitehall for rare victory

By Chris Miles

February 11, 2014

With 2:30 to play in the fourth quarter and his team up 40-32 in its Mid-State League Ohio Division home tilt with Whitehall on Saturday, Feb. 8, London girls basketball coach Bob Williams called timeout and gave specific instructions.

“We called a timeout and we told them we’re going to run clock and if it’s not a layup we don’t want it, even if it’s an open shot,” Williams said. “Normally I’m telling them to take those open shots but right then wasn’t the time.”

You have to excuse the Red Raiders (4-16, 2-10), the late-game instructions seem quite obvious to some, but when you’re a team that hasn’t won a whole lot, getting a little added instruction isn’t the worst thing in the world.

London held on to defeat the visiting Rams 46-34 and put a smile on every face associated with the program. Williams gave a big post-game exhale and talked about the challenges of playing from ahead when you’ve spent most of the season behind.

“We’re learning,” he said. “There have been such few wins we really don’t know how to play with a lead. Sometimes it’s easier to come back on a team because you’re just playing with energy. When you’ve got a lead you’ve still got to play with energy, but you’ve got to play smart, that’s the biggest improvement I saw today, we played smart down the stretch.”

It’s fitting the Raiders found a way to execute in the clutch and hold off Whitehall, because it was a game earlier this season against the Rams where London blew a late game lead and Whitehall came away with a win.”

“We got beat by them at the buzzer at Whitehall,” Williams said. “We felt like we had that game in hand but they got off a great shot just inside halfcourt and beat us. It was nice to come back and take care of business.”

Sophomore Mackenzie Minner led the way for the Red Raiders scoring 15 points and and picking up the slack for the missing Korren Cunningham (out with concussion symptoms) and a slowed Lindsay Freet (strep throat).

Freet played some but was coming back from a bout with strep, Cunningham did not play, combined those players average right around 20 points.

Aliyah Hiram scored nine points, while Talia Frye and Megan Cox had six points apiece. Ally Roberson chipped in five, Freet tallied four and Gabby McCoy hit a free throw for her lone point.

“It’s been tough this year,” Williams said. “But today was quite rewarding. It’s a big positive going into the last week of the regular season and the tournament. Wins are so few and far between. You have to take every success you can get.”

London will host Columbus Academy at 7:30 p.m. 0n Tuesday, Feb. 11 and will close out the regular season at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 13, before traveling to play at No. 3 seed Centennial at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15, for the first round of the Division II district tournament.

Chris Miles can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 18 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.