In Dec. 17 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Sports Editor
The Russell County Lady Lakers managed to cut an 18-point deficit to five in the second half but lost their first game of the season Tuesday night, 60-52, to the Monroe County Lady Falcons.
“We managed to turn a potential blowout into a fun game to coach and watch,” said Lady Laker coach Craig Pippen.
“Coming in, we knew Monroe County was big, strong, and…big. With two 6 foot post girls and quick guards, they have presented teams fits on the defensive and offensive side of the ball. I saw them beat Clinton County by 27 and then turn around and beat Barren Co. by double digits. This was by far our biggest test of the young season.”
Pippen said after his team turned in a dismal performance in the first half, the coaching staff simply told the team, “we believe in you so believe in yourselves. Go out there and hit em’ in the mouth.”
“When you get hit, you start to question things. That is what exactly happened in the second half,” Pippen said. “We came out swinging and Monroe started doing things different. Possession at a time, we managed to climb back into the ball game. We forced Monroe Co. into 26 turnovers and limited their bigs the ball in the second half.”
He said he was proud of the fight his team showed in the defeat.
“A big part of the run we made in the second half came with LeeAnn Grider on the bench in foul trouble,” he said.
“Regan Helm did a tremendous job coming off the bench and filling in for LeeAnn.”
“Rachael Miller came to play tonight,” Pippen said. “I told her after the game that when she plays with confidence and doesn’t get caught up in making mistakes, she can be is a gamer.
I also felt Julie Wethington played much more confident and intense. We need that from all our guards.
Blair Hoover did a nice job for us blocking out and rebounding the basketball. She led us with eight boards.”
Pippen said he saw his team grow up in the game.
“Hopefully we will take what we learned and apply that in future games,” he said.
“I do not believe in moral victories, however, I do believe you can improve as a team even when you come out on the short end of the score board.
“We have 5 games in the next 6 days. We won’t have time to practice on things we need to work on so this will be an interesting and challenging week for our team,” Pippen said.
“We need to continue to increase our intensity and focus on the defensive side of the ball.”
Russell County had three players in double figures, both senior Rachael Miller and freshman Julie Wethington finished with 11 points each while freshman LeeAnn Grider ended the contest with 10 points.
Junior Lindsay Ramage ended with nine points while both junior Blair Hoover and senior Kim Pierce finished with five points. Freshman Regan Helm also scored one point.
The Lady Lakers shot just 33 percent from the field while the Lady Falcons hit 55 percent and was led by Caylan Bybee’s 20-point effort.