On Friday, there was no disappointing group text from Laurens District High girls basketball coach Aianna Kelly to her team. There was no familiar frustration of preparing for a game only to have it canceled or postponed at the final hour.
This time, the Woodruff girls basketball team made the trip down Highway 221, and after weeks of waiting, the Raiders finally tipped off their COVID-19-interrupted season.
“It was emotional,” said Kelly, the former Presbyterian College standout who made her coaching debut in the 53-44 loss to the Wolverines. “I think I was disappointed especially after the first two games were called off, but we’re in the middle of a pandemic, and this is kind of out of our control.
“For the girls, I think it was an emotional rollercoaster, and I hated it for them. Every single time it happened, I had to be the one to deliver that text message to let them know we weren’t playing, and then try to keep them motivated.”
In total, seven games on the LDHS early season schedule dating back to November were either canceled or postponed due to COVID-19 and related quarantines either within the LDHS program or those of their would-be opponents.
Woodruff (6-0) pulled away in the third quarter after the Raiders battled throughout the first half, which ended with a 24-22 Woodruff advantage. LDHS hit key 3-pointers in the second quarter to tie the game and eventually trail 24-22 at the half.
The Wolverines, playing under former Hickory Tavern head coach Jon Jansen, outscored LDHS 18-8 in the third quarter and cruised to the win from there.
Brooke Bailey led Woodruff with a game-high 22 points. Qua Fortson scored a team-high 18 for LDHS, followed by 13 from Cadayzhia “D” Grant.
“I was actually pleased with our girls. To be honest, for it to be a first game after we only had one scrimmage, I was pleased,” Kelly said. “We have some things we can go back and work on, but some people showed up tonight that I expected to show up, and others who kind of surprised me. But I was pleased with the players and our coaching staff.”
LDHS was to play back-to-back games against Hillcrest Monday and Tuesday before heading into the Christmas break.
Woodruff 50, LDHS 48
The Raiders lost for the second time in less than a week to the Wolverines Friday night at LDHS.
Woodruff’s Zy Scott hit a pair of free throws in the final seconds to lift the Wolverines to the win as LDHS was unable to get a 3-point attempt before the buzzer to fall.
Early on, it appeared that LDHS was in control, jumping out to a 20-6 first-quarter lead before the Wolverines roared back, going on a 25-13 run in the second quarter.
Josh Cureton led the Raiders with 12 points and Isaiah Burnside added 11.
After being stymied over the first two quarters, Nathan Montjoy finished with a game-high 16 for Woodruff, including 14 in the second half.
Friday night’s game was the final contest of 2020 for the Raiders, who will resume their schedule after the Christmas break in January.