WEST ALEXANDRIA — James Byrd was concerned.
National Trail’s girls varsity basketball coach said he didn’t have a good feeling when his team arrived at Twin Valley South for a Cross County Conference battle on Thursday, Dec. 17.
“I was nervous because I didn’t feel any energy. I didn’t see any energy in warm ups and just had that feeling that we were not going to come out ready to play,” Byrd said. “And you can’t do that with anybody. I don’t care who you play. And we did that and they came out they played harder than we did and they wanted it more than we did in the first half.”
His feelings were spot on — at least for the first half — as the Blazers turned a 13-10 halftime deficit into a hard-fought 41-31 win.
Junior Skyler Ward led the second-half surge, scoring 16 of her game-high points in the second half, including 12 in the fourth quarter as the Blazers held off a determined South team.
“In the second half we started to have some energy,” Byrd said.
It was the second win this week over a county foe for the Blazers, who rallied to beat Eaton 41-37 on Monday in the same fashion.
Trail led 6-1 after the opening quarter and was up 10-5 before South rallied to close out the half on an 8-1 run, which included a pair of 3-pointers from Maycie Davidson.
Trail began the third quarter with a 12-2 run to take a 24-15 lead.
South, however, kept battling and closed to within 25-23 by the end of the quarter.
Trail upped its lead to as many as 11 late in the fourth.
J’da Jackson and Lexi Benedict each added seven for Trail.
“We did enough to win. I thought we played pretty well in the second half,” Byrd said.
Mackenzie Neal led South with 14 points and Taylor Clark added 10.
“I thought we started the game really strong defensively,” South coach Lindsey Cole said. “We were pretty happy with the way we were playing defensively, we obviously knew we needed to score the ball. But being able to hold them the six in the first was a pretty good feeling. Then we got the ball going in the basket in the second quarter and felt really good going in half.”
Despite the loss, Cole feels good about the direction her team is headed.
“But the feeling and the vibe from this game is exactly what we need. This is a game where we thought we could compete and we actually came out and competed,” she said.
Trail (3-0) is scheduled play Arcanum on Tuesday, Dec. 22 and will host Versailles on Tuesday, Dec. 29.
South (1-5) was scheduled to visit Tri-County North on Dec. 22 and will host Dixie on Monday, Jan, 4, 2021.