Counting on Defense: Cardinals overcome bad shooting night

Leading 37-16 in Friday’s game, Dollarway’s Darieus Robinson airballed a baseline jumper. The ball fell right through the arms of Newport’s Kharian Stafford, hit his foot and landed out of bounds.

Just 47 seconds into the second half of the 2-4A Conference game, it became apparent fate would not let the Cardinals lose at home to the Greyhounds.

Behind a balanced scoring effort and defensive intensity — Dollarway’s bread and butter — the Cardinals rolled to a 61-44 win over the Greyhounds to keep hold of the top spot in the conference.

Eleven different Dollarway players scored Friday night, including four starters in double figures.

“We’re trying to build some depth,” said Cardinal head coach Ellis Berry. “Our starting five, that’s a pretty good first five.

“We need about seven or eight more to come off the bench and give us more strength.”

The depth Dollarway (11-2, 9-1 in 2-4A) showed against Newport (8-6, 6-4) helped keep the Cardinals fresh enough to press nearly the entire ballgame.

“We’re going to press and play man (defense) all night,” Berry said. “That’s where we get most of our scoring from is from our defense.”

The tactic worked Friday as Dollarway forced 28 turnovers in the game. It also helped make up for a poor shooting night for the Cardinals.

Dollarway made just 25 of 66 field goals (37.9 percent), including a 3-of-16 performance (18.8 percent) from three-point territory. The Cardinals’ struggles carried over to the free-throw line, too, as Dollarway made just 8 of 26 foul shots (30.8 percent).

Even with the shooting woes, the Cardinals never trailed by more than four points in the game.

After Newport jumped out to a 6-2 lead, Dollarway closed the opening quarter with a 12-0 run thanks to six points from Gujuan Christmas, who finished with a team-high 13 points.

Christmas’ backcourt mate Robinson got going in the second quarter. Robinson, who finished with 11 points, had nine points in the period to help Dollarway outscore Newport 21-10 in the quarter and take a 35-16 halftime lead.

“I figured we’d probably start off with a slow start,” Berry said. “It’s been a busy day for us. We had an assembly today at the school to honor a fallen classmate (Tabarres Miller), and then there was a wake at one of the local churches that a lot of guys attended.

“So I wasn’t surprised we got off to a slow start, but once we got started it was no problem.”

Dollarway only managed 11 points in the third quarter, including four of Kabion Ento’s 10 points, but still managed to increase its lead to 20 (46-26) heading into the fourth.

Newport, which was led by Asante Shell’s 14 points, narrowed the deficit to 16 at 51-35 but would get no closer as Dollarway’s Joshua Liddell scored five of his 10 points in the period.

“They want to play wide-open,” Berry said of his team. “So our defensive pressure will let them get out there and use their athletic ability.”

Newport 68, Dollarway 58

The Lady Cardinals dropped to 2-13 and 2-8 in the 2-4A Conference with the 10-point loss Friday night.

Dollarway was led by Jayana Sanders’ 19 points, Serenity Alexander’s 16 and Sandra Hayes’ 10.

Nunnah Lee scored 19 points to lead Newport (6-4 in 2-4A).