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Lady Rebs welcome Dennison’s return

Lady Rebs welcome Dennison’s return
Lady Rebs welcome Dennison’s return
LanesvilleÂ’s Shelbie Timberlake is caught in a trap between South CentralÂ’s Shelby Miller, right, and Katie Saylor. South Central went on to win, 57-48. Photo by Brian Smith (click for larger version)

South Central’s Katie Dennison began the game on the bench but, when she entered, playing for the first time this season against Lanesville on Jan. 4, the senior drew applause from the home fans.
Dennison’s performance on the court, a comeback from a summer knee injury that required surgery, was a welcome comeback as well. She finished with 13 points and six rebounds.
Although the Lady Eagles were pesky throughout the game, trailing by just two late in the contest, South Central was able to pull out the Southern Athletic Conference win, 57-48.
‘Having Katie back is a big boost for us,’ said South Central coach Randall Schoen. ‘I think we got a hint tonight of what she is going to be able to bring. Everyone has to get used to her again. With her back, we have a different dimension. Hopefully, we will get better and better with her.’
Neither team led by more than single digits at any point in the game. South Central led, 38-36, heading into the fourth quarter.
The lead expanded to 48-41 when Dennison found Katie Saylor in the paint for back-to-back buckets. Lanesville battled back when Brooklynn Keinsley hit a pair of free throws and Kayla Smith knocked down a 3-pointer. The Lady Eagles’ spurt trimmed the South Central lead to 48-46 with 2:40 to play.
During the remainder of the game, South Central went 9 of 10 at the foul line, while Lanesville was unable to mount a final push.
‘We were right there the whole game,’ Lanesville coach Madeline Richards said. ‘We were where we needed to be even toward the end of the game; we just couldn’t finish, couldn’t get over the hump. We’re still struggling ball handling-wise when we are in key situations. We’ve got to keep improving that.’
Lanesville held an early edge, racing out to a 10-3 lead. Rachel Riley scored on a pair of put-backs, while Kayla Smith and Keinsley scored field goals off steals.
In the second quarter, South Central turned up the pressure, forcing 11 turnovers. Shelby Miller scored nine of her game-high 19 points in the quarter. She also had 13 rebounds. South Central pressed the first-half lead to 22-16 when Kelsey Miller nailed a trey.
For Lanesville, Keinsley continued to attack the basket, heading to the line several times. She finished with 16 points, going 7 of 8 at the line, helping cut the halftime deficit to 25-21.
‘Brooklynn did a nice job attacking the basket,’ Richards said. ‘It was a foul-happy game, but she adapted and went to the line.’
Lanesville took the lead on two occasions in the third quarter but were never able to push further ahead than two points.
‘Still working on knowing we are better than we are and understanding we can win these games,’ Richards said of her overall thoughts of the game. ‘We did lose, but this is a game where you can see our improvement. South Central is a good team that can get up and down the floor, and we kept up with them.’
Smith finished with 17 points for Lanesville followed by Keinsley with 16 points and six rebounds.
For South Central, the Lady Rebels landed three in double figures: Shelby and Kelsey Miller with 19 and 14 points, respectively, and Dennison with 13.
‘Lanesville played box-and-1, triangle-and-2, which is what we expected to see,’ Schoen said. ‘When we did get in transition, Shelby was able to come through.’
The key to adapting to the defense thrown at the Lady Rebels was the return of Dennison. Her presence opened the paint for Katie Saylor to score eight points but also to provide a ball-handling option.
‘This is what I thought about earlier in the year, was having three with the ability to take someone off the dribble up top,’ Schoen said. ‘We want some of these younger girls to see that and, when they come in, they don’t have to wait for Shelby; they can drive, pass or shoot.’
Fatigue was a concern coming into the game for Dennison, but it an issue wasn’t during or after.
‘It didn’t seem to bother her,’ Schoen said. ‘I didn’t intend to play her that many minutes, but, as the game wore on, I kept asking her if she wanted to sit, but she insisted she was fine. Hopefully, it will put us near where we could be.’
The game also gave each team a look at a possible sectional opponent.
‘(Richards) is doing a nice job with them,’ Schoen said. ‘I think on down the road at sectional, Lanesville is going to be a team to contend with. I think this sectional is as balanced as it has been in a long time. There are probably four or five teams capable of making noise.’
Lanesville will return to action tomorrow (Thursday) when the Lady Eagles host Rock Creek Academy at 7:30 p.m. South Central will next host Floyd Central on Jan. 18 at 7:30 p.m.
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