PREP BASKETBALL

Stoddard hits career milestone in Lady Generals’ 55-38 victory over LMA

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DALZELL – Bree Stoddard knew she was getting close to a career milestone when her friends in the stands kept telling her to shoot.

She knew she was really close when head coach B.J. Reed inserted her back into the game moments after tweaking her back – a nagging injury she’s been dealing with.

“She’s usually kind of scared of putting me right back in, so I knew I was close,” Stoddard said. “It was pretty surreal. I didn’t think I would get it tonight.

“I thought I needed a few more games.”

No more games necessary. The Thomas Sumter Academy senior standout and North Greenville University signee scored 22 points in the first half and finished with 28 – her last two giving her 1,000 career varsity points as the Lady Generals defeated Laurence Manning Academy 55-38 on Tuesday at Edens Gymnasium.

“It was really exciting and a really special moment,” Stoddard said. “Especially when all of your friends and family are here to celebrate with you.”

Stoddard’s jumper with just over a minute left in the game sent the TSA half of the gym into a frenzy as time was called and Reed said a few words and presented her with a basketball to mark the occasion.

“It’s a phenomenal accomplishment,” Reed said. “We didn’t play last week, so I was a little worried about coming out tonight, but Bree had a great first half.”

And then some. Stoddard had 22 of TSA’s 30 first-half points as the Lady Generals built a double-digit lead after one quarter and led by as many as 20 early in the third. She also finished with 13 rebounds for a double-double.

TSA found its all-around game in the second half as Aubrey Stoddard came on strong to finish with 12 points. Logan Morris added seven and finished with eight rebounds and five steals. Caetlyn Martin also had six points.

“As a whole, this is the most number of girls I’ve had that can flat-out shoot the ball from the outside,” Reed said. “All our guards can hit from the outside and deep, so that’s a wonderful thing for us.

“I was a little disappointed in how we played defensively, but I have to give Laurence Manning a lot of credit because their girls play hard and fight every play.”

That was evident in the second half. After scoring 13 points in the first two quarters, the Lady Swampcats were neck-and-neck with TSA the rest of the way.

“I wasn’t displeased with the first half,” LMA head coach Kendra Hoover said. “I felt like we played much better in this game than we have in others. I felt like we executed our plays, we just had a lot of turnovers and they had 10 offensive rebounds. Those are things we have to work on.”

Lexi Bennett finished with a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds for LMA. Cora Lee Downer added nine points, Brooke Bennett had seven and Brooke Ward finished with six.

In the boys contest, the Swampcats used a second-half change in defense to turn the tide in what had been a very close contest as they pulled away for a 67-45 victory.

TSA led 13-12 after the first quarter and was down just 25-24 at the half before a decisive third frame gave the Swampcats a double-digit lead.

“We switched up and went to a little matchup zone,” LMA head coach Will Epps said as his squad improved to 13-5. “They weren’t as comfortable against that as they were against the man, so that helped us.

“I think they were stuck on 24 points for a while, and we were able to make some transition buckets and extend the lead and give ourselves some breathing room.”

Taylor Lee led the charge with 17 points followed by Jerrell Kelly with 12 and Grayson Dennis with nine. Cam Singleton and Malik Cokley also added eight points each as the Swampcats finished the game on a 22-8 run.

They needed it, though, as the Generals had clawed their way back to within 45-37 with just under six minutes remaining. TSA and head coach Morgan Whalen used the break last week to tweak some things and fine-tune his squad.

“We just worked on not making as many mistakes,” Whalen said of his now 4-7 squad. “I’m glad we came out and played hard. We worked on some things offensively and defensively that worked out pretty well tonight.

“I think we played very well, but obviously in the third quarter the ball just didn’t go our way. (Epps) threw a little zone wrinkle at us and we couldn’t quite figure it out until the fourth quarter.”

Zach Fugate led the Generals with 24 points. Kyle Decker added eight and Eli Kessinger finished with seven.

Both teams return to action on Thursday as LMA will face Trinity-Byrnes Collegiate while the Generals begin region play at home against Calhoun Academy.