Slow stars doom Ladycats at Lady Spartan Invitational

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By Tommie Kendall

In all three games at the Lady Spartan Invitational last week, the Henry County girls’ basketball team started out slow in the opening minutes before progressing throughout.

The slow starts, which puzzled head coach Todd Gilley, led to two loses and one win at the invitational hosted by Sayre High School to open the Ladycats’ season at 1-2.

The Ladycats lost to host Sayre last Wednesday (33-19), lost to Garrard County Friday (48-36) and defeated Model Saturday (55-20). All three games marked slow, conservative opening quarters, which is something Gilley wants to fix before the Cats take to the court again.

“We played fairly well, we just kept digging ourselves in a hole during the first part of the game,” Gilley said after the three games during a four-day stretch. “When you dig yourself in a hole, you have to expand so much energy just to get out that you have nothing left. Overall, we weren’t happy with any aspect of our game in the beginning, but we thought we got better as the tournament went on.”

One area the Ladycats did struggle in was on the boards. Out of the six players that are in the starting rotation — Kelsey Mings, Kelley Everidge, Jessica Booher, Brittany Crawford, Tyler Sadler and Taylor Clark — only Everidge and Crawford play in the post.

“We know we aren’t very tall and we’re having to adjust to playing teams that have taller players,” Gilley said. “It’s something we can’t really simulate in practice so we have to adjust as we go.”

After the first week, the Ladycats have two players that are averaging in double figures in scoring with Mings averaging 11.3 points per game and Booher averaging 11.0. Crawford is the next highest scorer with 4.0 per outing. As a team, the Cats have had a hard time overcoming those early deficits but have played well in the later stages of the games.

Against Sayre in both teams’ season opener, the Ladycats trailed 9-0 after the first quarter and 22-3 at the half. They managed to score six points during the third quarter and 13 in the fourth en route to the 33-19 loss. Sayre never made any runs, the host team just slowly kept piling on the points.

Mings scored eight points, Booher scored six, Crawford and Ally Vaughn scored two each and Everidge scored one.

“Our defense wasn’t too bad but on offense it looked like we were moving in cement,” Gilley explained. “I think our players were trying hard not to make mistakes which made us very slow. Part of the early part of the game was Sayre playing good defense and part of it was us not moving.”

The Cats did respond after the half, but by then it was too late.

The Ladycats were back in action two days later when they took on Garrard in another game that saw the Cats start out slow and try to claw their way back in to the contest. Garrard was in front 11-0 before Henry managed to score its first basket. After the first quarter, the score was 15-9 and at the half it was 23-17. Garrard went on to win 48-36.

During the final quarter, Henry had its deficit cut to as low as five points and it remained in single digits for much of the final eight minutes.

Mings and Booher scored 12 points each, Crawford scored four, Macie New scored three, Clark and Sadler scored two each and Everidge scored one.

“Once again, we dug ourselves in too deep of a hole,” Gilley said. “One of the things our girls noticed is we always wait for something good to happen to get us rolling instead of making something good happen. When we were down 11-0, we had three players dive for a loose ball. And that got us going.”

Henry closed out the invitational with a big 55-20 win over Model Saturday night. The Ladycats still started out a little sluggish but turned it on and was able to pull away to the easy victory. Henry was in front 9-8 after the first quarter, then allowed Model just 12 points for the rest of the game while pouring in 46 more points, including 22 in the fourth quarter.

Booher scored a game-high 15 points, while Mings scored 14, Everidge scored seven, Crawford scored six, Ally Taylor scored four, Jessica Pyles scored three, and Clark and Vaughn scored two each.

After the 1-2 start, the Ladycats will have a short break before hosting Gallatin County this Thursday in their first district matchup. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.

E-mail us about this story at sports@hclocal.com.