Before the season even started, the Henry County Lady Cats got a hard knock: starter Megan Payton was out with a knee injury.
Payton injured her knee in a preseason scrimmage, and was scheduled for an MRI last week. That meant the rest of the Lady Cats had to adjust their roles, a process that head coach Todd Gilley said can take some time.
It all combined for a rough opening week for the young Lady Cats.
Louisville Collegiate 35 HCHS 29
The Lady Cats closed out their opening week with their home opener against Louisville Collegiate. The Wildcats stayed close for most of the game, but a third period letdown allowed Collegiate to pull out a 6-point victory.
The game opened slowly as both teams had trouble finding their shooting touch.
Cheyenne Clark put the Cats up 2-0 with a 15-footer and Haley Bramblett followed with a short, baseline jumper to put the Cats up early. Collegiate came back with a 15-foot jumper and a 3-pointer to take a 5-4 lead. Colleen Coomes finished the first period scoring with a basket on a post move to give Henry County a one point lead at the end of the period.
Turnovers began to take a toll on the Lady Cats as Collegiate outscored the Cats 12-6 in the 2nd period to open a 17-12 lead at halftime.
Henry County came out of the locker room and quickly closed the gap to two points. Kim Barmore scored a basket from the block and Coomes had another inside basket sandwiched around a Collegiate free throw to make it 18-16.
But the momentum was short-lived as Collegiate went on a 14-2 run that featured 6 consecutive points off Lady Cat turnovers. Collegiate went up 32-18, in what Gilley felt was the game’s turning point.
“That was a pivotal point of the game,” he said. “We have to do a better job as a team of taking care of the basketball and playing with a purpose. We didn’t handle things well at that point in the game.”
The Cats closed the period by scoring the final three points to close the gap to 32-21.
The Cats turned up the defensive pressure in the fourth period and managed to score the first 8 points to close the gap to 3 points at 32-29.
With about two minutes remaining it looked like the Cats might come back to win the game but Collegiate was able to regain their composure while the Cats went cold. The Amazons finished it off by scoring the final 3 points of the game for the 6-point victory.
While the third loss of the week was disappointing, Gilley found some positives. “I like the way we put ourselves in position to win in the 4th quarter. We just dug too big a hole,” he said. “Kim Barmore’s defensive effort against their best player, Paige Ganzel, was good and Colleen Coomes did a good job of playing help side defense and helping Kim out with her. We held her to 3 points. They did a really good job of carrying out the defensive game plan.”
Western Hills 53, HCHS 28
The Lady Cats traveled to Frankfort Thursday to take on the Western Hills Lady Wolverines and came out on the short end of a 53-28 score.
The Lady Cats offense was much better than in the first game of the season against Collins, but Gilley thought the team’s half-court defense was not as solid.
“We took a step forward offensively but a step backward defensively,” he said. “We got to the free throw line more often and got in a little bit better scoring position, but the thing this team needs to hang its hat on is their ability to play defense but I don’t think we played very good defense in this game.”
The Cats are still without sophomore forward Megan Payton who injured her knee in a preseason scrimmage and had an MRI scan on Friday.
“We are trying to learn how to put ourselves in a position to score,” Gilley said. “In the last week or week and a half we have had to alter all of our roles because of circumstances and that usually takes a few weeks.”
Collins 43 HCHS 4
The Lady Cats young, inexperienced squad opened the season at Collins on Tuesday, Nov. 27 and found the going tough against the quick, athletic Lady Titans.
The Lady Cats, who played without starting forward Megan Payton, had trouble getting their offense started against the pressure defense of Collins. The Lady Titans rolled out to a 10-point lead after one period and stretched the lead to 31-0 at halftime.
The Lady Cats scored their only two baskets of the game in the last 1:30 of the game.
Gilley chose to focus on the positive aspects of the game as much as possible.
“Our defense was good,” he said. “That was as good half court defense as we can play. Most of their scores came off our turnovers. They did not score much in their half court sets. They probably got 25 points or more off turnovers. I have zero complaints on our heart, our effort and on our half court defense.”
“Our inexperience and our lack of confidence in the half court game allowed them to steal the ball and shoot layups.”