WOODSTOCK — Already more comfortable down the stretch and with a few games under their belts, the Woodstock girls defeated Sequoyah 66-57 on Tuesday night.
Despite Sequoyah jumping out to a 19-16 lead in the first quarter, Woodstock (3-0) took control in the second quarter and held on in the second half.
Though the Lady Wolverines remained undefeated, second-year coach Regina Tate-Leslie remained focused on the process of steady improvement.
“Honestly, right now we’re just competing,” Tate-Leslie said. “It’s still the beginning of the season, and we certainly haven’t peaked. What I love about it right now is we have various people scoring on different nights, but we definitely have things we need to work on.”
Sophomore point guard Bridget Utberg led Woodstock with 20 points, but it was the contributions from her teammates that stood out to Tate-Leslie. Woodstock senior Sophia Singer, who averaged nine points per game last season, scored 10 points in the first half, on her way to 17 in the game.
Though Singer, a Western Carolina commit, went down in the second half with an apparent knee injury, if the senior can remain healthy, she could play a key role for Woodstock this season.
“Seeing Sophia step up tonight is what I’ve been waiting to see from her,” Tate-Leslie said. “She’s been in a bit of a slump, so to see her play as well as she did tonight against a team she’s always wanted to beat, I’m really proud of her.”
Playing in its first game of the season, Sequoyah (0-1) pushed Woodstock beyond its point of comfort.
Freshman Elle Blatchford, who finished with a team-high 17 points, was poised and confident in her first high school game and will likely be Sequoyah’s engine for the foreseeable future.
Sequoyah trailed 52-48 at the end of the third quarter and cut the lead to two in the fourth, but behind the poise of Utberg, Woodstock pulled away in the final five minutes.
“Overall, Woodstock is a really good team,” first-year Sequoyah coach Chris Yarborough said. “I thought they did some things really well that put a lot of pressure on us, and we have to get better on defense. We shot the ball really well from behind the arc, but we left too many points in the paint. I was happy with the effort we gave, but we have some things we need to work on.”
Sequoyah made nine 3-pointers, which kept it within striking distance until the final quarter.
“(Sequoyah) has some great guards,” Tate-Leslie said. “Basically, all five players could actually shoot. We started off thinking we would take away one of them, and then somebody else would step up, but, on the other side of that, is they had to deal with our shooters and our mismatches. We were able to get them in pick and roll situations and that helped us out.”
Woodstock will host Salem at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, while Sequoyah will play at 6 p.m. Friday at Harrison.