In Jan. 29 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Sports Editor
Coach Craig Pippen’s Lady Lakers fell to the district rival Lady Panthers of Cumberland County on Monday night in Laker Gym, 62-56, to put their record at 11-5 on the year.
Russell County trailed nearly the entire game before making a comeback and knotting the game at 38 late in the third quarter.
The Lady Panthers then went on a 13-0 run to put the game away and secure a Cumberland County victory.
Russell County was led in scoring by Julie Wethington with 17 points. Blair Hoover and LeeAnn Grider both scored 10 points each. Lindsay Ramage scored six points while Kyla Thomas had five points.
Sara McClure scored four points while Rachael Miller and Tyla Bailey both scored two points each.
“Some girls stepped up for us in Blair Hoover and Julie Wethington,” Pippen said. “It was a tough district loss, but we need to move on and continue preparing for the district tournament in late February.”
Pippen said he is seeing more intensity on the defensive side of the ball as a whole.
He said with the loss of junior Kim Pierce to an ACL tear, his team is looking to their younger players to step up.
“Julie and Blair did a nice job shooting the ball and played with much more confidence. Blair has a lot of ability and I think she is ready to do the things we need her to do to be successful,” he said. “She is playing with much more intensity and assertiveness.”
The Lady Laker coach said his team needs better play from some of their post players. “Lindsay Ramage remains our only inside scoring threat. Our coaching staff is looking for another forward to step up by blocking out, rebound the ball and sprint the floor on a consistent basis. There are definitely some opportunities for our post players to earn more minutes,” he said.
He said Pierce will go into rehab for her knee these next few months.
“I know she will work hard in her rehab and return for her senior year a better and stronger player,” he said.
“You can't replace a player like her with tremendous heart, work effort and leadership, you just have to try to find players who are willing to step up and replace some of the things that we are now in need of,” Pippen said.
“As a head coach, I remind our players and assistant coaches daily that we, including myself, need to continue to attack weaknesses on and off the floor. The bottom line is this; if you don't make daily sacrifices in your personal life you will more than likely make poor decisions,” he said.
“If you want to be successful, you must sacrifice "self wants" and work hard to achieve "team needs." It's all about paying the price.”