High School Girls Basketball

Falcons upend Spartans, now 5-0 in 19-6A

By Dennis Silva II, Sports Editor
Posted 12/29/20

Tompkins girls basketball coach Tamatha Ray and her players know that if they are to repeat as District 19-6A champions this season, they’ll have to go through Seven Lakes to get there.

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High School Girls Basketball

Falcons upend Spartans, now 5-0 in 19-6A

Posted

Tompkins girls basketball coach Tamatha Ray and her players know that if they are to repeat as District 19-6A champions this season, they’ll have to go through Seven Lakes to get there.

Tuesday was a successful step forward, then, as the Falcons got the best of the Spartans in their first of two district meetings, earning a 53-42 win at Seven Lakes High.

Tompkins improved to 5-0 in 19-6A, 10-3 overall, and is in sole possession of first place in the district. Seven Lakes fell to 3-1, 8-3 overall.

“These kids have a mission to repeat, and when you’re playing a team that has a ‘0’ in the (district) loss column, you’ve got to win,” Ray said. “We don’t want any part of a co-champion. These girls want the district title outright, and we knew it’d come through this gym.”

The Falcons’ stingy defense—a chaotic assortment of zones, traps and any other necessary coverages—was on full display, forcing 18 turnovers as it worked tirelessly to contain Spartans star freshman forward Justice Carlton. The 6-foot-2 Carlton finished with 14 points, 12 below her season average, and 13 rebounds and four assists, but never quite got into a rhythm offensively.

Tompkins’ perimeter pressure, led by senior guard Crystal Smith, hounded Seven Lakes’ guards, making it difficult to enter the ball into Carlton. Whenever the ball did get to Carlton, she was surrounded by two or three Falcons.

“When you have a good post like that, you have to respect it,” said Smith, who had five steals to go with 12 points. “We had to try and limit her. She’s a great player. We had to work as hard as we could.”

Ray said the goal was to hold Carlton to 15 points. Her team did her one better.

“We didn’t want her to feel comfortable, and we felt like if we were touching her, whether it’s the front, back, or side, then she wasn’t going to be comfortable,” Ray said. “I thought our defense played good. We missed some backside rotations because of how we were having to play, front-loading the strong side, but nothing’s going to be perfect.”

Offensively, Tompkins had a standout underclassman of its own.

Sophomore forward Loghan Johnson was brilliant from the opening quarter, when she scored seven points to help the Falcons open an early 20-9 lead. Johnson was a matchup nightmare for the Spartans, versatile enough to handle the ball against pressure and hit open shots from the perimeter or go inside for tough buckets and rebounds.

Johnson had a game-high 23 points to go with seven rebounds.

“Coming from last year, I’m more comfortable,” Johnson said. “I don’t need as much guidance as I did last year, and now I can be that person that can pick up my team and be more assertive.”

Another area where Tompkins outlasted Seven Lakes was its depth. Last season, the Falcons went seven players deep in their rotation. Against the Spartans, Ray received contributions from a plethora of players, and was even able to sit Smith and Johnson at the same time and not lose ground on the scoreboard.

The Falcons have more power in the post in senior Ashley Ngene (four points, nine rebounds) and junior Kennedy Bourque, and junior guard Brooklynn Nash played well in place of Smith when called upon. Sophomore forward Macy Spencer also played a crucial role, particularly in the second quarter when she had three points and three rebounds to help push Tompkins’ halftime lead to 34-19.

“We’re more solid,” Ray said. “This year, we have more.”

Smith said the idea of repeating as district champs serves as fuel for the team. More tough games are ahead before the Falcons can get there, but they have earned an early edge in the 19-6A race.

“This win was very reassuring for us,” Johnson said. “We know where we stand in this district. Moving forward, we’ve got to continue being super confident finishing out district play.”

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