Friday, Jan. 9, 2009

Wootton girls hoopsters do the little things in win

Wootton 46, Whitman 42

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With two minutes left in regulation time of the Wootton girls basketball team’s 46-42 home win over Montgomery 4A West Division foe Whitman Friday, Patriots leading scorer Becca Feldman had only scored two points. But the senior guard, averaging 14.2 points per game and headed to play at Emory (Ga.) University next season, isn’t all about numbers.

As the team’s go-to player and its leader, Feldman’s job is to do the right things at the right times; whatever it takes to get the team a win. And she did that Friday.

‘‘What Becca does for this program, some things just aren’t measured in stats,” Wootton coach Maggie Dyer said. ‘‘She consistently saves us; she’s a big-time player. I think every time you win a close game like [Friday’s] it builds confidence.”

Whitman senior Erin Brown (UMBC) scored 10 of her 17 points in the third quarter to almost single-handedly erase Wootton’s 25-13 halftime lead, and the teams were tied at 42 with 1:35 left in the fourth. Feldman netted a jump shot and two free throws in 20 seconds to give Wootton the 46-42 edge. When the Vikings tried to roll the inbounds pass, Feldman flung herself on the floor for the steal, ultimately sealing the win.

Friday’s victory was Wootton’s eighth straight, including its title-winning performance at Sherwood’s holiday tournament Dec. 27-28. The Patriots are now 8-1, 3-0 in the 4A West, which they won for the first time last year.

‘‘This team has a lot of character,” Dyer said. ‘‘When Becca dove on the floor to regain possession, that was a huge play for us. It’s those things that down get written down or show up in the box score.”

Wootton’s dynamic has changed in 2007-08. Once strictly a guard-oriented squad, it boasts more variety this year. 6-foot-2 junior Chelsea Craig, who averages 13.4 points per game and tallied four point and 10 rebounds Friday, and freshman Gabby Flinchum (12 points, 10 rebounds) man the inside.

‘‘This is the first year we’ve had two true post players,” Feldman said. ‘‘It’s good to know we can go inside and have confidence in our post players to help us when our shots aren’t falling.”

The Patriots have options and are learning how to use them. Junior Sarah Bolmer scored 10 points, including two from behind the three-point arc, and sophomore Lauren Jackson added seven points.

Friday was Whitman’s third-straight slow start. The Vikings (6-3, 1-2) totaled 13 turnovers in the first half, three in their first three possessions.

Whitman proved with its comeback that it has what it takes to be a force in the county again; it just needs to play at that higher level more consistently. The Vikings are still young; Brown is the only senior starter. Sophomores Susan Russell (9 points) and Caroline Kahlenberg (6 points) hit some crucial shots Friday.

‘‘We’re definitely not into moral victories,” Whitman coach Pete Kenah said. ‘‘We want to focus on the second half and understand the disappointment. We’re glad everyone makes playoffs. Playing close games like [Friday’s] help us learn, get better in those situations.”