THE WOLGEMUTH EFFECT: Lady Tigers’ freshman guard Davoney Dellinger earns career-high 24 points on solid feeds from junior captain Alexis Wolgemuth in 55-16 home win over West Caldwell

Lady Tigers' sophomore guard Davoney Dellinger (4) on the defensive side of the ball in the home win, 55-16, over West Caldwell on Jan. 22. (O-N-E photo by Gene Leatherman)Lady Tigers' junior point guard Alexis Wolgemuth (25) scoring two of her 14 total points in the first quarter of the home contest against the Lady Warriors on Jan. 22. (O-N-E photo by Gene Leatherman)
Marcus Smith
Sports Editor

Coming off a tough road contest against Patton on Thursday night – in which the Lady Tigers outlasted a rally in the fourth quarter to pull out the 59-52 win – the Fred T. Foard varsity girls basketball team returned to Jerry Copas Gymnasium on Friday with much more aggression from the outset.

An interesting bit of information in the match-up against Patton (Jan. 21) is that Lady Tigers junior point guard Alexis Wolgemuth’s mom, Jennifer Howard Wolgemuth, celebrated her birthday.

(Howard) Wolgemuth is a local Foard basketball legend (1989-1993) who led her team to a 29-1 record and a 3A State Championship her junior season. She went on to be a second-team All-ACC player twice at N.C. State under legendary head coach Kay Yow. She is currently an assistant girls basketball coach at Foard.

As for Friday’s encounter, the three-headed monster of senior forward Carley West, Wolgemth and freshman guard Davoney Dellinger was the difference-maker in a strong victory over conference opponent West Caldwell, 55-16.

With the blowout victory, Foard moved to 5-1 overall and in the Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference – second only to Bunker Hill (6-0).

The Lady Tigers opened up the match-up in a press zone defense that was very effective throughout the first half. It collected steal after steal from the opening tip.

Foard amassed a quick 11-2 lead with 3:46 left in the first quarter led by Wolgemuth’s passing ability (four assists in the quarter) and Dellinger’s shooting prowess from 15-18 feet (10 points in the quarter), as well as West’s ability to crash the glass (four boards in the period, two offensively).

The Lady Warriors (0-5) couldn’t overcome the press defense as Wolgemuth and Dellinger picked their positions early and retrieved a pair of steals apiece which translated into 23 Lady Tiger first quarter points.

“We keep working on letting our defense lead our offense,” said Lady Tigers head coach Brandy Dawkins as a point of emphasis following its collapse in the win against Patton. “Just applying pressure on the defensive end and making sure that we’re rotating and running the court.”

Meanwhile, West Caldwell senior guard Cambria Crisp was the only player to get points on the board in the frame via a field goal, as well as a foul shot.

In addition to Wolgemuth’s assists and steals in the frame, she also collected three rebounds and five points (including a triple). Meanwhile, West finished the quarter with six points, two steals and an assist, along with her aforementioned rebounds.

Ahead by twenty going into the second quarter, Dellinger continued her stellar night from the floor as a pair of triples and a couple of fastbreak chip shots on assists by Wolgemuth opened things up in the frame with Foard leading, 36-3, with 3:52 remaining in the half.

Dellinger finished the opening half leading all scorers with 20 points. While, Wolgemuth closed out the period with 10 points (five in the quarter with a triple), eight assists (four more in the second quarter), five takeaways (three in the second quarter) and three boards.

On the other side, Lady Warriors’ Lucy Manuel had several opportunities late in the first half to add a few points before entering the break via the foul line, but she only made 1-of-5. The Lady Tigers carried a 40-4 lead and all of the momentum into halftime.

In the third quarter, the Lady Tigers didn’t do much in the way of scoring from the field but converted 7-of-8 free throws in the period. Wolgemuth hit all four of her charity stripe attempts while West hit both of hers and sophomore guard Samaria Tipps even earned a point from the line (five total points and a pair of steals). On the defensive end, Foard also came out of the break in a 3-2 zone.

West continued to crash the glass as she earned another four boards (10 total rebounds), but she also earned 10 points on the night. Wolgemuth dished it off to West in the final moments of this contest, and she drew a foul. She knocked down the pair of free-throws to secure the double-double. As for West Caldwell, Crisp led her team with two points, three rebounds and an assist (which came on a Manuel bucket) in the period.

With this match-up already in question – Foard leading 49-8 – the Lady Tigers put in most of its bench (which is small as it only has eight available players following Alyssa Smith’s recent foot injury).

The chunk of the minutes in the final frame came via freshman guards Kayla Jones and Sarah Katy, as well as Tipps, Dellinger and freshman center Imani Ikard. Ikard, Tipps and Dellinger entered as starters, along with veterans West and Wolgemuth.

Crisp rallied late for the Lady Warriors in the fourth quarter, scoring five points including 3-of-5 from the charity stripe which led to a 51-12 Foard lead with 3:46 left in play.

Crisp finished this contest with 10 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Sophomore guard Paige Shell followed up on the defensive end with four steals (three of which came in the opening period). While, Manuel earned five points, three rebounds, as well as one block and a steal.

Entering the game in the final two minutes of play, Wolgemuth connected on a solid pass on the inside to Dellinger for her 10th assist of the night which gave her a double-double of her own (14 points and 10 assists). Dellinger collected a career-high 24 points with that final basket. Wolgemuth also earned seven boards and six total steals.

After losing its season opener at home against Draughn on Jan. 11, 74-63, Foard is currently on a five-game win streak and will put this mark on the line against Bunker Hill on Tuesday, Jan. 26. Tip-off is set for approximately 6 p.m. A big match-up at the point guard position is in place between Wolgemuth and Lady Bears senior Addison Wray in this encounter.

“I tell them it’s one game at a time, one play at a time,” said Dawkins about the young core staying composed as the season progresses. “If you mess up, hustle back on defense (and) get it back. Let it go. One play at a time and we take games – because you never know with COVID – one game at a time, so now we’re getting ready for Bunker Hill. They’re number one and we’re currently number two, so it’s gonna be a good game.

“Our focus is gonna be making sure that we play as a team, and that...we’re not just looking consistently for one person. Alexis [Wolgemuth] is a captain on our team, and so of course they always look for her, but we also have other players on the team that step up when we need them to. We have Samaria Tipps. She’s our swing player, so she can guard, and she can post. Then, we got Carley West...She’s a dominant rebounder for us, and we have her leading our other post Imani [Ikard], so our focus is gonna be how do we play as a team and make sure our defense shifts and plays as a team, as well.”