HAMPTON — Woodside hasn't lost many games over the last three seasons, but the ones that get away leave a bad taste. That most definitely includes a December loss to Kecoughtan, which settled in the Wolverines' stomachs like a couple of convenience store burritos.
Which explains the full-court, man-to-man press Woodside came out in Saturday's rematch. And Kemoni Earp playing maybe the game of her career in an ideal setting.
With glaring intensity from start to finish, the Wolverines avenged their only loss of the season with a 47-35 win to claim first place in the Peninsula District standings. Woodside held Kecoughtan to 21-percent shooting and forced 22 turnovers in winning its 15th consecutive game.
"I think part of the problem in the first game was we were thinking about the Kecoughtan from last year, when they were unsure and not very aggressive," Wolverines coach Mike Tallon said. "The group they saw at our place really came after us hard.
"I think we figured it out that this team is good, so we came out with our normal intensity. That was the big difference today — our intensity."
In a 51-49 loss on Dec. 15, Woodside blew an eight-point lead in the final five minutes, and Kecoughtan took control of the district race. Tallon said that day his team was "going through the motions."
On Saturday, Woodside (19-1, 15-1) came out in a full-court, man-to-man press and took the Warriors of their offense. Guard Aianna Kelly had three steals in the first 2 1/2 minutes. Kecoughtan (17-3, 14-2) had eight turnovers in the first quarter and five more in the second.
"The style of play dictated how the game went early," Kecoughtan coach Kevin Williams said. "They came out more aggressive than we were and they seemed more certain about what they wanted to do. Our girls didn't seem to grasp what was going on early in the game."
In the December game, center Chelsey Romero hurt Woodside inside with 15 points despite foul trouble. On Saturday, the Wolverines' defense — particularly Earp, who at 5-foot-9 was giving up five inches — made her a non-factor.
Romero scored eight points, all of which came from the free-throw line. She was 0-for-10 from the field. Earp finished with 13 points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots. And most of all, she shut down Romero.
"I just tried to get position as much as possible," Earp said. "Whenever she had the ball, I put pressure on her. When she didn't and was out top, I dropped back."
Also huge for Woodside was forward Alexis Bell, who had six points, six rebounds and four steals.
"I was proud of Kemoni and Alexis," said guard Adrienne Motley, who had 17 points. "They did a great job of defending Chelsey. We wouldn't have gotten the win without them."
"(Earp) has improved a ton the last half of the season," Tallon said. "She's a tremendous rebounder for her size. And (Bell) played great defense today. Her girl never did anything, and she was guarding two or three (different) people."
With a one-game lead going into the final week of the regular season, Woodside is in the driver's seat for what would be its third consecutive district championship. The Wolverines have
"Oh, they know it's not over," Tallon said. "That's why you didn't hear a whole lot of screaming and hollering. They're not stupid. They've been there."
WOODSIDE 47, KECOUGHTAN 35
WOODSIDE (19-1, 15-1): Earp 13, Bell 6, Washington 2, Kelly 7, Motley 17, Curtis 2. Totals: 16 15-24 47.
KECOUGHTAN (17-3, 14-2): Batten 2, Grate 4, Townes 14, Romero 8, Clifton 1, Gray 6. Totals: 11 13-14 35.
K'Tan 56, Woodside 45 (boys)
Rodney Bullock's 25 points kept the Warriors a game ahead of Hampton going into Tuesday night's showdown in the Crabbers' gym.
WOODSIDE (11-8, 9-7): Jackson 6, Davis 2, Lyons 7, Orlina 12, Cross 2, J. Johnson 7, Carter 7, R. Johnson 2. Totals: 15 14-25 45.
KECOUGHTAN (17-3, 15-1): Askew 2, Bullock 25, Haskett 12, Alexander 10, Poe 4, Lipscomb 3. Totals: 16 23-29 56.