OXFORD — Baskets came at a premium in Thursday’s contest between the Vance Charter and J.F. Webb women’s basketball programs.

Although there were plenty of scoring opportunities, neither team could generate any momentum on offense, resulting in a game that saw the Warriors and Knights get held to under 40 points apiece.

But a late scoring run by J.F. Webb was enough for them to build a comfortable advantage and secure a 36-32 victory.

Despite dealing with the consistency issues, head coach Paul White was more than happy to see his players claim a win over a tough Vance Charter team.

“I was really nervous coming in,” White said. “We’re not very tall and we’re scrappy. With the Simmons twins [in Kyiah and Kayla], I lost sleep over what we were going to defensive against them, but the girls stepped up to the challenge and we came up with a game plan that made things tough for them.”

The strategy for White involved a defense that ensured no shot for Vance Charter went uncontested. Shutting down putbacks was essential for White since Kyiah and Kayla averaged 10.7 and 11.7 rebounds per game respectively entering the game.

With J.F. Webb lacking the dominant interior presence, each member of the team took turns in boxing out Vance Charter’s scorers and pulling rebounds on both ends of the floor. White also encouraged his players to be patient on offense and not rush their shots.

All four quarters were a meticulous grind for the Warriors as they struggled to score points, but White commended his players for their resilience, and Vance Charter head coach Brian Howard for his efficient defensive schemes.

Vance Charter had proven to be a difficult challenge for J.F. Webb to overcome during their three previous meetings, all of which were losses. Now that J.F. Webb has a win over Vance Charter, White is confident that his players have the potential to hold their own with in-conference opponents like Vance County, Southern Durham and Durham School of the Arts.

“This gives us a lot of confidence,” White said. “Our girls already have confidence because that’s how they’re built. The staff and myself instill that confidence in them and hopefully tonight is a step in the right direction for us since we’re in a very tough conference.”

Even though Vance Charter limited J.F. Webb to 36 points, Howard believed his team’s defense could have been much better. But he was more disappointed by his offense’s inability to navigate past the Webb defense.

Howard attributed some of the issues to the atmosphere at J.F. Webb but said the Knights cannot be deterred by hostile environments if they want to win games.

“We hurt ourselves, that’s all it was,” Howard said. “I think we were intimidated by the environment and the other team. We just have to find kids that want to play in big games because our defensive intensity was not there all night long.”

Vance Charter’s loss was their first in the 2021-22 season and temporarily gave them the same 3-1 record as J.F. Webb before they faced Falls Lake on Friday.

While Howard hoped to see more intensity in the quick turnaround, White entered the weekend optimistic about J.F. Webb’s outlook with Northern Lakes Athletic Conference play set to begin for them in one week.

White understands that J.F. Webb is far from a finished product, adding that a lackluster sequence in the final seconds of Thursday’s game that saw his team surrender four points in five seconds gave him plenty of material to work with in practice ahead of their next game.

“That final sequence was us losing focus and not being locked in,” White said. “We have to learn how to finish better. We had a 10-point lead with two minutes to go, but that was because there were some younger players in the game who weren’t prepared for the moment. That’s on me as a coach but all in all, we’re happy. We are not satisfied though.”

Before J.F. Webb takes part in their first conference game next Friday, it has a home rematch with Oxford Prep on Tuesday, an opponent they defeated 62-51 back on Nov. 23. Vance Charter’s first game of the new week is at home against Franklin Academy on Monday.

Contact Brandon White at bwhite@hendersondispatch.com or by phone at 252-436-2840

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