Alexander in Wonderland.
Although he was the author of the great children’s novel “Alice in Wonderland,” Lewis Carroll was foremost a mathematician — seeking the best solutions to some very difficult problems.
When the London High School girls basketball team hosted cross-county (and league) foe West Jefferson on Friday, it knew it would have its hands full with the Lady Riders.
Displaying a pesky defense, the Lady Red Raiders (14-3) topped the visitors 48-35 in London’s Ray Chadwell Gymnasium. Holding just a three-point advantage at the intermission, London’s swarming defense opened the gap to a dozen after the third quarter was over.
With both teams unable to find any rhythm offensively, London’s Karlie Alexander turned up the defensive pressure. Gathering close to a dozen steals (unofficially), the sophomore’s calculating and quick-strike ability was the key to keeping West Jefferson (12-5) on its heels.
“She’s our sparkplug — she knows what she has to do,” London coach Kevin Long said of Alexander. “She’s going to get her nose in there on every play.”
And her teammates were the beneficiary of her quickness as steals led to fast break points, something the West Jeff coach knew was a concern coming in.
“They got some fast break points — that’s what they like to do,” West Jeff skipper Tim Converse said of the opponent. “Their defense sort of put us in a hole.”
And just as Alice had some adventures when she fell down the rabbit hole, so did both teams as the first half was a see-saw battle.
The game started with London’s Emily Minner giving her squad a brief lead with a three, but a strong Sydney Looby underneath let the visitors open up a 9-3 lead.
“We knew playing at home against a rival, you can’t let the environment get to you, but it did in the beginning,” Long said. “But our mentality all week was to play strong on the defensive end.”
Two straight steals led directly to two layups by Red Raider teammate Kaitlin Patterson — and a tie game. Patterson led all scorers on the night with 16.
After a second three by Minner, London was ahead 19-11 in the second. West Jeff went on a run with a pair of threes by Lexi Bowman to give the visitors their final lead of the game 20-19, right before the half.
Alexander started the third with an offensive rebound put back. Plays by London’s Mallory Carroll and Elizabeth Oney helped the Red Raiders build the comfortable lead after three quarters.
In the final stanza, London continued its solid team ball movement to not allow the Roughriders to gain any ground in the last eight minutes.
“Part of the problem is we got sloppy,” Converse said. “And they were able to take advantage.”
Looby and Bowman paced West Jeff with 10 points each.
Jeff Gates is a contributor to The Madison Press.