By MIKE HASTINGS
Phoenix Staff Writer
CHARLESTOWN - The women from Lancaster Bible College could see what they were up against at the opening tip-off.
Valley Forge Christian College's Kim Albert was a foot taller when she tipped the ball to her teammate to start the game. Her height advantage was to be a recurring theme.
Albert dominated the boards leading the Patriots to a 54-45 victory in North Atlantic Christian Conference action Thursday.
The freshman forward finished with 20 rebounds, including an impressive 11 offensive boards. Most of her team-high 16 points came on put-backs. Her performance was even more impressive considering she played only five minutes in the first half because of foul trouble.
"Her height and jumping ability was a huge asset for us," VFCC coach Jennifer Notter said.
And Valley Forge took advantage of that asset early.
Five minutes into the game, Albert already had six points and nine rebounds as her team built a 16-5 lead. But when she picked up her third foul, she was forced to the bench and things got interesting.
Lancaster battled back, showing excellent teamwork. All seven Lady Chargers scored in the first half, led by senior forward Rebekah Davis' six points.
With Albert out, it was Lancaster's turn to convert offensive rebounds. Both Nicole Teague and Kim Provenzano were strong on the boards.
Their effort paid off.
When Nicole Cooper hit a three-pointer with a minute left in the half, Lancaster had made it all the way back tying the score 20-20.
Gretchen LeVan's jumper gave Valley Forge the two-point lead at the half, and suddenly what looked like a blowout, turned into a exciting game.
Albert was back on the court to start the second half and this time stayed out of foul trouble. She announced her presence immediately with an offensive board and put-back.
Shara Brown answered for the Lady Chargers, driving the lane for a layup on one possession, and hitting a jumper on the next.
But LeVan wouldn't let her team falter. She hit two more jumpers, and kept getting the ball inside to Albert.
"Gretchen had shin-splints but wouldn't come out of the game," Notter said. "During timeouts, I tried telling her to come out, but she refused. She hustled and dove for balls, she was an inspiration to her teammates."
One of those inspired players was guard Ann Scott, who found her range from the outside. She knocked down two three-pointers and finished with 14 points.
Forward Rebecca Chechile also played a strong game for Valley Forge. She finished with eight points and 12 rebounds.
"This was a big game for us," Notter said. "It was our first conference game, our first opportunity to see how we match up other teams like Lancaster. Hopefully this game will start us in the right direction."