The Essex Lady Trojans ended the year 2012 dropping their last two games during the Caroline Girls Basketball Christmas Tournament last week.
Falling to AAA Chancellor on the second night, 64-49, the team’s suspensful game came in a 59-56 heartbreaking loss to the home team following a three-point shot made by Caroline’s Jazmen Moore with less than a minute left and Shannon Mosby adding two free throws.
Clinging to a one-point lead, Moore came through with her second trey of the night with 53 seconds left after Mosby had penetrated the lane for a jump shot that rimmed in and out. The three-pointer by Moore lifted the Lady Cavaliers to a 57-53 lead.
After both teams missed the front end of one-and-one opportunities, Jaelah Rivers made a basket for Essex to pull the Lady Trojans within 57-55 with 20 seconds to play. Dionshe Nelson stole the ball on the ensuing possession by Caroline and drew a foul, and she made one of two shots to bring Essex to 57-56 with 11 seconds left.
The Lady Trojans were forced to foul on Caroline’s next possession, and Mosby went to the line and made both shots with less than two seconds left. Essex was unable to get off a shot before time expired.
Caroline advanced to play John Marshall, which defeated Chancellor 57-45 in game two of the tournament.
Caroline coach Tim Marshall said afterward he was glad the game was over. It was the third meeting of the teams, but Caroline defeated Essex by double-digit margins in the earlier games.
“Their team has gotten better,” noted Marshall, whose team improved to 6-2 overall. “It all goes to the coach.”
“Our team has had to build that cohesiveness,” said Essex coach Shavohn Curley. “We’ve done a lot of team-building activities,” she added.
The Lady Trojans missed some easy layups, particularly from the post players, noted Curley. “I feel like as a team we should have scored more.”
Most of the Essex scoring came from Zenya Butler and Vickie Boone. Butler scored a game-high 27 points, and Boone added 18 points for the Lady Trojans, who slipped to 5-5 overall. Both players made a pair of three-point shots.
“Our post players really came through,” said Marshall, because the team’s outside shooting was off.
“We gave up too much,” added Marshall. “Our defense was a step off.”
Caroline had a 42-41 edge at the start of the final quarter. After Butler made a pair of free throws to give Essex a 43-42 lead, Hayes made a layup after snagging an offensive rebound, Mosby sank two free throws, and Toliver scored inside on an assist from Moore to give Caroline its biggest lead of the quarter, 48-43.
A layup by Nelson at 2:30 and then a free throw by Butler enabled Essex to tie the score at 52-52 with 2:19 left, but another bucket by Hayes underneath put Caroline back out front, 54-52, at 1:42.
The biggest lead Caroline held after any quarter was three points, 27-24 at the end of intermission.
The Lady Cavaliers scored five unanswered points at the start of the third period to take their biggest lead of the night, 8 points. Hayes made one of two throws after a technical foul on Essex for having six players on the floor, and Toliver followed with two consecutive baskets. Toliver’s offensive rebound and layup gave Caroline a 32-24 lead at 6:58.
Boone tied the game twice with back-to-back three-pointers later in the third quarter. Herfirst tied the score at 36-36, and her second made it 39-39 with 1:45 left.
Caroline led 10-9 after one quarter. In the second quarter, the teams tied three times and swapped the lead twice in the final 3:25.