In Jan. 21 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Sports Editor
The Russell County Laker and Lady Laker basketball teams split a boy-girl doubleheader against Southwestern Pulaski Tuesday night at Laker Gym with the Laker boys coming out on top 50-43 while the Lady Lakers fell to the Lady Warriors 56-48.
In the boys game, the 13-2 Lakers shot 42 percent from the field and got 15 points from their bench to outlast the Warriors.
Laker coach Willie Feldhaus said he was proud his team never relinquished the lead despite a late run by the Warriors.
"We got a couple of steals and a couple of easy baskets and as a coach I think we should have gotten a lot more of those things," he said. "We responded once again and won the ballgame by making some big plays down the stretch."
Feldhaus said he told his team following the game they must put teams away and capitalize on easy buckets before the opposing team can chip away at their lead.
The Lakers held the 10-7 Warriors to just 33 percent shooting on the night and were led in scoring by senior Robbie Bell with 11 points. Senior big man Zach Carney garnered a double-double in the ballgame, collecting 10 points and 10 rebounds and blocking two shots while making some big plays down the stretch.
"He was the key," he said. "But I expect that out of my seniors and I've got four or five of them that can do that on a given night."
Freshman Tyler Robertson scored nine points while senior Bryson McFall added eight points, five assists, two steals and two blocks. Senior Adam Justice finished with six points and senior Kyle Burchett, who got his first start of the season, ended with four points. Senior Lucas Justice also had two points for the Lakers.
Feldhaus said the Warrior zone defense was as good as he has coached against while here at Russell County and really caused the Lakers to search for an answer late in the game.
"We ended up with 18 turnovers on the night so we have to find a way to clean those up," he said.
Cody Epperson led the Warriors with 13 points.
In the nightcap, the 11-7 Lady Lakers fell behind early to the 13-3 Lady Warriors by a score of 18-2 but managed to come back and make a game out of it in the second half before falling 56-48.
Russell County finished the game shooting 36 percent from the field while Southwestern ended shooting 44 percent in the game.
After coach Craig Pippen's Lady Lakers shot just 4-21 in the first half they came out of the halftime break to shoot 15-32 in the second half but the Lady Warriors' Danay Fothergill was too much for Russell County as she ended the game with 34 points.
Leading the way for Russell Count was freshman LeeAnn Grider with 15 points followed by senior Kim Pierce with 11 points. Senior Rachael Miller tallied nine points and freshman Julie Wethington ended with five points. Junior Lindsay Ramage scored four points while both junior Blair Hoover and freshman Amanda Cooper ended with two points each.
Following the game, Lady Laker coach Craig Pippen said he was proud of his team's efforts to come back in the second half and cut the lead to single digits.
"We're just going to keep encouraging them to shoot because they hit those shots in practice," he said of the team's first half shooting woes. "In the second half we calmed down, we had nine turnovers in the first half and ended with 11."
Pippen said he was proud that his team didn't quit.
"That is one of the first ingredients to having a good team is having that fight in you," he said.