In Dec. 24 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Sports Editor
The Russell County Lady Lakers (3-2, 0-1 in district play) fell apart down the stretch and lost their district opener 48-32 at Clinton County last Thursday night
“I am very disappointed with our team-toughness and energy level,” said Lady Laker head coach Craig Pippen after the game.
“We didn’t defend well, we didn’t execute well offensively and it was a poorly coached game on my part.”
Pippen said his team “stunk” it up from start to finish in every fashion, despite them leading in the third quarter 25-21. The Lady Dawgs then went on a 16-0 run and never looked back.
“We need to become a high energy team to be successful,” he said.
“We need five players on the floor who want to play tough and with high energy, it is that simple.
He said toughness was an issue with his team and that they would continue to work on that aspect of the game.
“We play much too passive and robotic,” he said. “We need to develop a sense of confidence and team toughness and until we do, these are the outcomes you can expect to see”
The Lady Lakers shot just 22 percent from the field for the game and were led in scoring by junior Blair Hoover and freshman LeeAnn Grider with nine points each.
Senior Rachael Miller scored seven points while junior Lindsay Ramage scored four points and grabbed nine rebounds. Freshman Julie Wethington finished the game with three points.
“Outside of Rachael Miller, I don’t think anyone has played to their potential, especially in regard to toughness and intensity,” he said.
Pippen said he took full responsibility of how his team played from both an effort and performance standpoint.
“The way we are playing is unacceptable,” he said. “As coaches we need to identify the problem and then do something about the problem.”
He said that may take a shakeup in the lineup and some other eye openers in regard to his team. “Regardless of what it is, we need to find five competitors who are going to play for the moment,” he said.
He also elaborated that practice is not the problem.
“We might be the best practice team in the region,” he said. “We dive on the floor after loose balls, we bump cutters, we fly to the ball and we hit each other in the mouth. However, when the lights come on and the official throws the ball up, our intensity level drops and we fail to play to our capability. It’s a mind set that must change.
While the loss was disappointing Pippen said he still had a bright outlook for the season.
“The good thing about this is it is a young season,” he said. “We have a lot of games to play and some time to grow. However, we need to start applying the intensity we see in practice to games immediately.”
Coach Blake Button's Clinton County team (4-3, 3-0 in district play) was led in scoring by senior Brittany Flowers with 18 points and junior Stevi Morgan with 17 points.