The Henry County Ladycats jump started their 2007-08 season at the Lady Spartan Invitational last week. And although it took a while to get the entire engine firing, by the end of the three-game, round-robin style tournament, the Cats were already showing progress from just three days earlier.
Now, coach Todd Gilley said, the young squad has to continue to get better.
Henry opened its season with a loss to Garrard County (64-40) on Wednesday, before losing to Sayre (37-26) on Thursday and defeating Model (48-38) on Saturday to start the season at 1-2.
“I want to take these first few weeks of the season to learn what we have and how to use it to our advantage,” Gilley said. “Some of the stuff we can’t simulate in practice — like height, quickness and experience — so we’ll just have to make adjustments in games. It will just come with playing more games and getting the experience.”
The Ladycats are coming off a 9-18 record, lost six players to graduation, and field a very young team with just one senior Jean-Anne Moore and no juniors. The number one concern Gilley has, the coach said, is his team’s ability to play well each time they step on the court.
“We want to make sure we get a little more consistent play,” he explained. “We have to move our feet on defense, and rebound better. If you can’t stop people from scoring or rebound, you can’t win games.”
In their opening game against Garrard, the Ladycats struggled to get back on defense, which resulted in 13 wide-open layups during the first half, when Henry was outscored 30-22.
While the Ladycats improved their defensive play in the second half, it was on the offensive side of the ball where they struggled. Garrard, who scored a majority of its points in the paint, outscored Henry 18-9 during the third quarter and 16-9 during the fourth to earn the 64-40 win in both team’s season openers.
“We weren’t, as a team or coaching staff, pleased with what we saw against Garrard,” Gilley said. “It just wasn’t a good opening-game for us. This game showed us some areas we needed to focus on, and we started to work on that the very next day.”
Sophomores Kelsey Mings and Brittany Crawford led Henry in scoring with eight points each, while freshmen Jessica Booher and Taylor Clark scored five points each, Moore and sophomore Jenny Kozora scored four each, and sophomore Allison Taylor and freshman Tyler Sadler scored three each.
Henry was back in action the following afternoon, where the Ladycats took on host school and eventual tournament champions Sayre High School. Henry improved from the opening game, Gilley said, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Sayre, who came away with a 37-26 win.
“We played very good on defense — it was much better to hold a team like Sayre to just 37 points. But we scored just 26 ourselves,” Gilley said. “But this time of the year, a team’s defense should be ahead of their offense. We just weren’t aggressive enough with the ball though, only shooting eight free throws.”
Sayre is led by the daughters of former 1980s University of Kentucky greats Sam Bowie and Dirk Minnifield. But Henry held both of those players to just eight points each, which Gilley was more than pleased with.
The 6-foot-3 Bowie clogged up the middle in a 2-3 zone, which gave Henry fits all night. Sayre led 10-6 following the opening quarter, 20-11 at the half and held on for an 11-point win.
For Henry, Mings and Clark led the squad with nine points each, including a pair of three pointers. Moore and Kozora scored three points each and sophomore Kelley Everidge added two.
The Ladycats closed out their opening week with a 48-38 win over Model. Three players got in double figures — Mings with 15 points, Taylor with 14 and Booher with 10 — and the Cats came away with their first victory this season.
Everidge scored four points, Moore added three, and Crawford, Clark and Sadler chipped in two each.
Henry was behind 13-12 after the first quarter and 21-19 at the half, but outscored Model 29-17 during the final two quarters to come away with the 10-point win.
“I would say we got better as the game went on,” Gilley said. “We did a much better job of scoring from our defense, keeping them off balance, and scoring from our half-court sets.”
Henry’s next three outings are all 31st District seeding games — Friday night at Gallatin County, Monday night at home against Carroll County and Thursday night on the road against Owen County.
“Our next three games are very important,” Gilley said. “We just have to keep getting better.”
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