By Drew Goodman / Scrimmageplaycva.com contributor
Whether it be diving after loose balls, pulling down tough rebounds, or dishing it to her teammates on offense, Charlottesville guard Lakita Thompson was hard to miss in the Black Knights’ season opener against Fluvanna.
Thompson finished the contest with eight rebounds, six steals, and five assists, stuffing the shat sheet in every category.
Except for points scored.
Thompson misfired on several early shots from the field and went scoreless for 31 of the game’s 32 minutes.
But when the Black Knights desperately needed a bucket with 55 seconds left to play, the junior shook off the early rust, and connected on the biggest shot of her career.
Trailing 45-44 with under a minute in regulation, Thompson calmly buried a three-pointer from the top of the key to give her team the lead for good. Charlottesville, behind Thompson’s first, and only points of the day, then closed out the game from the free throw line to hold on for a 49-47 squeaker over the Flucos.
Tuesday’s game represented the first athletic contest held at CHS in nearly 10 months.
Thompson’s clutch shot represented Charlottesville’s first points in almost six minutes of play, and just the Knights’ second made field goal of the fourth quarter.
After Fluvanna grabbed a one-point lead on the previous possession, Thompson patiently dribbled the ball at the top of the key, and scoured the low block for an open look.
With blue jerseys all over the paint, and defenders draped over leading scorer Andrea Lefkowitz, Thompson took matters into her own hands, and atoned for her early misses with the go-ahead triple.
“Lakia plays winning basketball — she takes care of the ball, she’s tough on the ball defensively, she rebounds way beyond her size,” Charlottesville head coach Jim Daly said. “She’s like an extra coach on the floor too. She’s coming over the huddle and seeing things too. She really helps us go in every aspect, and is such a hard-working kid.”
Charlottesville (1-0) needed Thompson’s late-game heroics and more thanks to a furious Fluvanna rally between the late-third and early fourth quarter.
Sophomore Alana Carter-Johntston scored all but four of her game-high 22 points in the second half, and helped the Flucos chip away at what was a 13-point hole.
CHS had a 10-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, but a put-back by Keke Davis and a steal-and-score by Carter-Johnston shrunk the deficit by 40 percent in just 38 seconds.
The Black Knights had kept the visitors out of the paint for most of the game, but Carter was able to get to the lane at will during the rally. A runner in the lane with 2:33 left to play capped a 15-3 Fluvanna run and gave the Flucos their first lead of the game.
After Lefkowitz went 1-for-2 from the line to knot the score at 44, Davis countered with a free-throw of her own to put Fluvanna ahead for the final time.
The Flucos had a chance to tie the game at 48 with 7.5 seconds remaining, but elected to settle for a two, and the Knights were able to run out the clock.
“It took patience, moving the ball on offense and getting the shots that we wanted,” said Fluvanna head coach Nick Ward of his team getting back into the game. “We kind of lost focus there for a couple of minutes and it got kind of away, and we got refocused… Hats off to [Thompson] that was her only bucket of the night.”
CHS led by 10 at intermission and stretched its lead to as big as 14 points, before Carter got going.
Much of Fluvanna’s success in the second half was due to the adjustments that they made on Lefkowitz on defense. Lefkowitz notched 17 points in the game’s first 16 minutes, but managed just one field goal in the final two quarters while finishing with 21 points and eight rebounds.
The senior took just one break for less than 30 seconds in the third quarter of Tuesday night’s win. Lefkowitz played a big role in keeping Fluvanna out of the low block for much of the night, and did not pick up her first foul of the evening until the final minute of the third quarter.
With new faces all over his roster, Daly is thankful to have a steady hand in Lefkowitz on both ends of the floor.
“Andrea is so reliable — she works hard and she’s aggressive going to the hoop,” Daly said. “She’s going to knock down jumpers, she’ll knock down threes, she’s aggressive off the dribble, and she’s just a matchup problem for everyone. I was joking saying, ‘I don’t know what part of the game that we could have taken her out’, because she does so many things to help us.”
Lefkowitz was a known commodity coming into the game, but freshman Rayquel Allen announced her presence to the rest of the Jefferson District in her CHS debut. Allen poured in 14 points, spread evenly throughout the game. The freshman made several big plays in the fourth quarter.
Less than 30 seconds after Carter-Johnston trimmed the Charlottesville lead to just six, Allen drove into a crowded lane and finished to put her team ahead by eight.
Allen also hit a pair of foul shots late to help slam the door on Fluvanna.
“Only three of our girls have played a varsity game before — we have lots of new faces this year,” Daly said. “No scrimmages, no games beforehand, this is new for all of us.”
Vanessa Antwi finished with eight points and nine boards.
Charlottesville will return to action on Friday against Louisa, while the Flucos will host Goochland on Thursday night.