Sydney Waldron prefers to share the wealth most of the time, but she’s more than willing to shoulder the burden when her team needs her the most.
The Greenwood Christian senior scored 24 points, including the last seven of the contest, willing the host Cougars to a wild 49-43 home win over Edinburgh on Tuesday night.
With her team facing a 43-42 deficit, Waldron got to the foul line and knocked down a pair with 4:39 remaining, the 15th and final lead change of the evening. Her putback bucket at the 3:01 mark gave the Cougars a three-point edge, and she added three more foul shots down the stretch to keep the Lancers at bay.
GCA (3-5) only had six players in uniform Tuesday, and the other five were all freshmen. Waldron knew she needed to take the lead in the closing minutes.
“I always try to get my teammates the ball, because I want them to gain as much confidence as they possibly can,” said Waldron, who also grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds. “But at some moments, you’ve just got to go.”
Each side tried to bother the other with defensive pressure in the early going, but it proved to be more effective for the Lancers (1-9), who forced 12 turnovers to end a back-and-forth first quarter with a 19-13 advantage. Mia Dodson had three buckets down low for the visitors, who capped the period with seven straight points, including a 3-pointer from Kenna Streeval in the closing seconds.
More miscues prevented either team from finding a steady offensive rhythm in the second quarter, but GCA was able to inch its way back into it, eventually retaking the lead at 22-21 when Norah Herndon banked in a 3 from the right wing. Edinburgh went the first 6:38 of the quarter without a field goal but still managed to have the game deadlocked at 24-24 after a Kyah Streeval free throw with 21 seconds left. Waldron fed Herndon for a basket at the other end to send the Cougars into the locker room up by two.
A 3-pointer and a free throw by Waldron to open the third gave Greenwood Christian its biggest lead of the night at 30-24. Edinburgh answered with a 7-0 run, briefly going in front on Kyah Streeval’s 3 with 4:40 on the clock before GCA’s Kate Reed knocked down a trey at the other end just seconds later. The lead changed hands a few more times before the quarter ended, the last when Waldron hit a pair from the line with 39.2 seconds left to put the Cougars up 38-37.
Annaleece Jackson’s corner 3 broke a deadlock and gave the home team a 42-39 advantage with 6:46 to go in regulation, but the Lancers answered back with twos from Kenna Streeval and Bella Turner to go back in front by one with 5:39 left. Edinburgh went cold after that, though, and didn’t score again — allowing a young and shorthanded Cougar team to survive despite committing 36 turnovers.
“Everybody but Sydney Waldron is a freshman,” GCA coach Tiffany Clements-Smith said, “and that’s a big stage and a lot of pressure, a county game. … We made our freshman mistakes, but they pulled it together at halftime and came out and took care of business. I think it’s a big step for them.”
Herndon scored 13 points and Jackson seven for the Cougars. Kenna Streeval led Edinburgh with 11 points, while Dodson and Kyah Streeval each scored 10. Dodson had seven rebounds and three blocked shots, with Kyah Streeval adding a team-high five steals.
Lancers coach Dennis Smith came away pleased with how his team competed throughout despite the final result.
“That was probably our best complete game,” he said. “Just in the last five minutes … we were getting in a hurry. And that just comes with experience; we haven’t been in very many close games.”
Tuesday’s affair was close throughout, but Edinburgh just didn’t have an answer for Waldron at the end.