SMYRNA — Campbell was able to hold off Woodstock for a 48-42 win in the first round of the Class AAAAAAA state tournament Friday.
That was no easy feat for the Lady Spartans (21-7), who made only 42% of their free-throw attempts Friday. Campbell was only 11-of 26, but thanks to its solid defensive play, Woodstock (23-5) could not take advantage of the Lady Spartans’ shortcomings on the line.
Campbell contained Woodstock’s main ball-handlers, Bridget Utberg and Carly Henderson, forcing other players to push the ball up the floor following the Lady Spartans’ missed free throws.
That resulted in Woodstock often losing the ball and then having to foul Campbell.
With the win, Campbell will either host Mill Creek or head to Rockdale County in the second round.
“We played through the whole game before we realized that (Utberg) and (Henderson) seemed to be the key, so we just decided we were going to take them away and see if we can make somebody else beat us,” Campbell coach Randy McClure said.
The Lady Spartans were clinging to a 39-38 lead with 2:44 left on the clock. Sarah Taub, who led Campbell with 15 points, made the team’s first pair of free throws at the 2:17 mark to increase the lead before Jaleah Alston and Jameah Alston each made stretch it to five.
Woodstock had a chance to make it a one-possession game on the free-throw line, but Savannah Casey made just one shot.
Then, it was Campbell’s turn to shoot free throws.
Nia Bozeman made a pair of foul shots for a 45-39 lead. Jameah Alston, who scored 11 points, added another free throw before Bozeman hit a quick layup before getting fouled to make a nine-point lead with just over a minute left to play.
“Well, we got to shoot a lot of (free throws),” McClure said. “The fact that we got to shoot a lot more of them, they were eventually going to fall through.”
Woodstock came into the game wanting to slow down Campbell’s up-tempo play, coach Regina Tate-Leslie said. The Lady Wolverines held Campbell to under 50 points and forced the Lady Spartans to attempt many 3-point shots to no avail.
Woodstock was at its best in the second quarter, when it ended the first half on a 12-3 run to take a one-point lead at the break. It started with an Utberg 3-pointer and a pair of free throws before Casey’s 3 tied the game at 18-all.
Sara Grace Bertolini’s layup gave Woodstock its first lead of the game before Campbell answered with a Bozeman free throw.
Early in the fourth quarter, back-to-back layups by Taub and Jameah Alston stretched Campbell’s lead to five points. Shortly after, the Lady Spartans took Woodstock out of its rhythm by holding the ball and chewing the clock.
“In the beginning of the fourth quarter, unfortunately, we turned the ball over at critical moments, and (Campbell) pulled us out of our game plan by stalling,” Tate-Leslie said. “It was working up to that point. When we lost the lead, that forced us to come out of our game plan, and we weren’t able to recover from it.”
Utberg led Woodstock with 19 points, while Henderson finished with 12.