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Monday, May 2, 2016

Nichols slows Nash but Sparkplugs too much for Eagles at Sectional

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

South Putnam junior Aubrey Nichols was tasked with slowing down Speedway's explosive guard, junior Allison Nash. Nichols did her job but Nash still scored 28 points in the Sparkplugs 63-41 win.
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SPEEDWAY -- Trying to stop Speedway junior Allison Nash is nearly impossible, but that was the task of South Putnam in the opening game of sectionals on Tuesday.

SPHS junior Aubrey Nichols denied Nash the ball full court for the duration of the game, doing a phenomenal job of making Nash's night a pain.

Nash still finished with 28 points in the Sparkplugs' 63-41 win.

"(Nichols) did her job," SPHS coach Lindsey Blackman said. "She did what she was asked to do. She took it upon her shoulders for that to be her responsibility, and she played well."

The Eagles wrapped up their season with the loss, but Nichols and the team's seniors refused to go down without a fight.

After trailing by 16 at the half, senior Leanna Masters scored eight of her team-high 15 points in the third quarter to start to pull her team back in the game.

Masters also pulled in 12 rebounds in her final high school game.

South Putnam senior Leanna Masters scores on a bankshot over Speedway's Hannah March as Brittany Birt (22) looks on.
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"At times, like we've said before, we had trouble getting it into the post," Blackman said. "Just getting a couple looks in there opened that outside back up and we were able to get in the good balance of getting Leanna some attacks on the inside and then getting Mallory (Cash) some open jumpers on the outside."

Senior guard Mallory Cash, the Eagles' best shooter, started the game cold but responded in the fourth quarter. She scored nine of her 14 points in the final period.

Nikki York also played well, hauling in 10 rebounds for the Eagles.

But it was Nichols who shined the most.

Of Nash's 28 points, five came when Nichols was on the bench, seven came when the Eagles were in a 2-3 zone from a baseline out of bounds play, four were free throws and six were on fast breaks or in transition.

In the halfcourt, when Nichols was guarding her, Nash scored only six.

With Nichols facing her up, Nash was stopped. She was 3-for-12 from the field.

In every other scenario, when Nash touched the ball, she scored.

"Our plan was to put Aubrey on her. Aubrey can be really annoying defensively," Blackman said. "We told her our goal wasn't to stop her, it was to slow her down and try to get in her head a little bit. I think we did a good job of that, of taking her out of her game."

Nash didn't do it alone. Senior Tiffani Adkins had 15 points (on 4-of-21 shooting) and 16 rebounds. Senior ReAnna Ballard had 10 points, including a pair of threes.

Speedway (13-8) will take on Cloverdale at 6 p.m. Friday night in the sectional semifinal.

The Eagles wrapped up their season 7-14. The loss to Speedway was the final high school basketball game for seniors Brittany Birt, Mattie Varvel, Kelsey Whitaker, Nikki York, Mallory Cash and Leanna Masters.

"The best part of this year was the locker room; the girls getting along so well, and that started with our six seniors," Blackman said. "We just talked about how they'll never know the impact they had on the younger generations, but they did. And they're just great people. I told them that I don't care about playing basketball, they're just great people.

"And I hope they come back and at least visit from time to time. It was a great group of seniors to be a part of and to work with."

Wherever Allison Nash went, so did Aubrey Nichols.
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2013 sectional 44 quarterfinals
At Speedway
South Putnam 4 10 15 12 -- 41
Speedway 18 12 14 19 -- 63

Individual scoring
South Putnam (7-14): Masters 5-7 5-8 15, Cash 5-14 2-2 14, Whitaker 1-5 2-2 4, Nichols 1-7 0-0 3, York 1-4 1-4 3, Varvel 1-8 0-0 2, Birt 0-0 0-0 0, Cundiff 1-3 0-0 0, Hewitt 0-1 0-0 0, Dobson 0-0 0-0 0, Barnes 0-2 0-0 0, Higgins 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-51 10-16 41.
Speedway (13-8): Nash 10-20 4-8 28, Adkins 4-21 5-7 15, Ballard 3-8 3-4 10, March 1-4 0-0 2, Tavis 1-2 0-0 2, Ray 1-3 0-0 2, McCaughey 0-1 2-2 2, McGraw 0-1 0-0 0, Perry 0-1 0-0 0, Granados 0-0 0-0 0, Dailey 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-61 14-21 63.

Three-pointers: South Putnam 3-13 (Cash 2, Nichols) Speedway 7-15 (Nash 4, Adkins 2, Ballard) ... Rebounds-offensive: SP 40-11 (Masters 12) SW 46-17 (Adkins 16) ... Turnovers SP 19, SW 9 ... Fouls SP 15, SW 18 ... Fouled out: SP (Masters), SW (none).

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