Published: Jan 01, 2012 02:33 AM
Modified: Jan 01, 2012 12:38 AM
CARY - Green Hope's Kristen Gaffney and Ashley Williams know each other so well they can finish each other sentences - not to mention find each other on the basketball court with timely passes.
But the trouble for the Falcons is, they're the only two returning starters on a girls' basketball team that will be protecting a 44-game winning streak when Tri-Nine Conference play resumes.
"We're still a work in progress," said Williams, a junior guard.
Gaffney, a senior guard/forward, said, "I think by the end of the year we'll be where we want to be for the conference run and the playoffs run. We just have to keep working hard in practice."
The Falcons aren't exactly struggling, as they improved to 11-2 with Wednesday's 54-41 win against Durham Riverside (7-4) to take third in a Holiday Invitational tournament game at Cary Academy.
But they wanted to win the tournament. They were not happy with settling for third after losing a 69-68 overtime game to Charlotte's Myers Park in Tuesday's semifinals.
"To say we're very disappointed is an understatement," Gaffney said.
Against Riverside, Gaffney posted a double-double, with 28 points and 11 rebounds. She set a new three-day tournament record with 79 total points after previously scoring 21 against Cary Christian and 30 against Myers Park.
Williams finished with 18 points while bringing the ball upcourt against a physical defense. Both players made the all-tournament team.
But only four other Falcons scored, and all four had only 2 points apiece.
"We're still a team in the making," Green Hope coach Mike Robinson said. "The girls are starting to trust each other. After the last couple of years, it's tough to gel with three new starters, but we're getting there."
Green Hope started quickly, as Riverside opted not to double-team Gaffney. She hit a layup, a 3-point field goal and converted a 3-point play as the Falcons took a 10-4 lead en route to a 17-12 first-quarter advantage and 25-16 halftime lead.
"I think they forgot about you," Williams said with a grin to Gaffney of the defensive game plan.
The spectators included Duke women's basketball coach Joanne P. McCallie, who was there to watch her daughter, Maddie McCallie. The Riverside senior, bound for Miami of Ohio, finished with 9 points.
Gaffney is bound for Vanderbilt, and says she wasn't recruited by Duke even though she played with Maddie McCallie on a club team and the Duke coach has seen her play many times.
Gaffney, wearing a Vanderbilt sweatshirt, shrugged her shoulders when asked if she knew why Duke didn't recruit her.
She was asked if she was trying to show McCallie anything with her double-double and tournament record.
"I wasn't thinking about it," she said. "I'm happy with Vanderbilt."
That's when Williams chimed in, finishing Gaffney's answer.
"I think she showed them some regret," she said.