In March 6-12, 2008 Issue
The Lady Lakers’ (12-17) run toward the 16th
district title came to an end last week as they were beaten 51-32 by the Cumberland County Lady Panthers (23-5) in the title game at Laker Gym.
Russell County went scoreless in the first quarter and never was able to recover as the Lady Panthers outscored the ladies in three of the four quarters.
“The Cumberland County game was a hard-felt loss for our ball team,” said Coach Craig Pippen. “Our players and coaches really felt like we had a legit shot at winning the district championship.”
Pippen said, however, that he thought the game came down to tournament experience.
“We have a very young team with very little experience in tournament play,” he said. “Anytime you play on that kind of stage with a lack of experience, your nerves can get the best of you. That was apparent from the start of the game when we had three quick turnovers.”
Pippen congratulated the Lady Panthers for winning the district title.
“They played a great game and forced us to make quick decisions,” he said. “Coach Miller has done a tremendous job building that program. Just five years ago they were fighting for wins and now they are among the elite of the region.
Pippen said that is what he would like to see happen in Russell County. “In time, I believe it will,” he said.
“We are going to put that game behind us and learn from it,” Pippen said. “We need to learn how to perform in tournament play.”
Pippen said his team would take what they learned from the Cumberland County loss and build on it for next week at region play in Bowling Green.
“We are going to Bowling Green with the mindset that we are playing for a fourth region championship and a trip to State,” he said. “I don't know how to see it any other way.” “Simply put ... it's time to face our giants,” he said.
“The Lord has definitely placed his hand on our program this year; not just from a win-loss stand point either,” he said. “He has used basketball as an opportunity to reach our players and coaches. I myself have seen what his presence has done for our players and coaches.”
“I am very thankful of the blessings He has provided us and I am excited to see what He has in store for our future,” he said.
Pippen said he was a big believer that to be successful, you have to experience success. “By advancing to the 4th Region Tournament, this will in itself help our younger players understand what we expect out of the future and keeping our focus on the reward,” Pippen said. “Playing for a Regional Championship at Diddle Arena has now become something we expect each and every year.”
“I am extremely excited about our two seniors, Ashley Franklin and Michelle Copley, having the opportunity to play at Diddle,” he said. “I reminded them to cherish this opportunity because they are about to experience something many seniors have not experienced in this program. I hope they make the most out of this opportunity.”
Against Cumberland County, the Lady Lakers were led in scoring by Kim Pierce with 10 points. Ashley Franklin scored seven points and had four rebounds while Lindsay Ramage had four points and three rebounds. LeeAnn Grider, Blair Hoover and Michelle Copley had three points each. Copley also had five rebounds. Freshman Tyla Bailey also scored two points on her only field goal.
Making the All-District team was Ashley Franklin, Michelle Copley and Kim Pierce.