Nation Ford was right where it wanted to be.
But Spring Valley wasn’t going to stay quiet forever.
The Vikings, defending Class AAAA state champions, began their quest for a repeat on Tuesday by turning an eight-point lead after the first quarter into a 20-point halftime advantage. Spring Valley never took its foot off the accelerator afterward, easily dispatching the Falcons 70-29.
“We did what we had to do early,” Nation Ford coach Frank Snider said. “Against a team like this, you have to be perfect from the free-throw line and shoot about 70 percent. We didn’t do either.”
Nation Ford (10-15) scored the game’s first four points and its patient strategy quickly paid off. The aggressive Vikings defense led to two fouls apiece on stars Xylina McDaniel and Asia Dozier, giving the Falcons a window.
They couldn’t squeeze through it.
The Vikings’ obvious height advantage allowed them second-chance point after second-chance point, hammered home when Dozier rebounded a missed free throw and laid it in while getting fouled. The three-point play gave Spring Valley (23-2) a 19-point lead – Nation Ford was held to a scant two free throws in the entire second quarter and couldn’t draw even.
McDaniel took the floor for the third quarter and scored 12 of her 16 points in that frame. The Falcons tried to keep pace but had their wings clipped.
“I’m very proud of them,” Snider said. “I told them that not a lot of teams get to the playoffs and they were one who did. We’ve got seven sophomores who played coming back, so we’ve got a lot to build on.”