South Central comes up short against Lady Mustangs
George Browning, Sports Writer, [email protected]
Every coach’s first priority is to win games and see players improve as individuals.
Unfortunately, for first-year South Central coach Lynne Thomas, her Lady Rebels didn’t get to experience much of the former, but she said the latter was evident with each of her players. The group took to the court one final time this season Friday night and suffered a 61-20 loss to host New Washington in the Class A sectional.
“Coming into this season, I knew it was going to be rough,” Thomas said. “Numbers were low and we lost a major contributor from last year’s team, so I was prepared for what to expect. My goal was to improve and learn life lessons that the sport provides, and I think we did that.”
One of the life lessons learned was a theme in the last two weeks of the season: adjusting to adversity.
Senior Lily Boley severely sprained her ankle in a game against Silver Creek and missed the final two regular season games. While Boley played against New Washington, she wasn’t herself. If Boley’s injury wasn’t enough, South Central found out late in the week that it would be without the services of Makaylie Patterson, who had dental work done.
“Lily wasn’t able to practice all week, and we weren’t really sure how she was going to be able to do and we didn’t know if she was going to be able to give quality minutes,” Thomas said. “Patterson had oral surgery Wednesday and wasn’t able to play. For the turnaround time we had, I thought the girls who played stepped up and did their part.”
The Lady Rebels’ improvement that Thomas spoke of showed early in Friday’s semi-final loss as they held leads of 2-0 and 4-2 while keeping the normally hot-shooting Lady Mustangs off the scoreboard.
Just like it has all season, however, the lack of depth and inexperience showed up for South Central. New Washington hit three free throws on back-to-back possessions, which turned out to be the start of a 13-0 run.
Annabelle Faith, who was South Central’s second-leading scorer with seven points, ended the run by hitting a two late in the first quarter, but the Lady Rebels trailed 15-6 at the end of one.
The Lady Mustangs went on another spurt, this time 7-0, that helped build their lead to 22-6.
South Central showed life after another two and a free throw by Faith that came as a result of a stop and defensive rebound by Marie Goodwin.
Another stop by the Lady Rebels led to two free throws from Kendall Kiper, who finished with eight points. Kiper’s freebies pulled the team to within 13, 24-11.
South Central managed just two more points in the first half that came off another basket by Kiper, allowing New Washington to build a 17-point lead, 30-13, at halftime.
The Lady Rebels went scoreless in the first 6:30 of the third quarter before they got one of two free throws from Boley.
With Boley’s injury, Faith took on a bigger role down the stretch for South Central. Thomas said she couldn’t be happier with the production from Faith.
“I am so proud of Annabelle,” Thomas said. “She is a great girl off the floor. On the floor, regardless of what I ask her to do, there was never one complaint. She didn’t want to handle the ball this season, and she and I talked about how in life you sometimes have to do things you don’t want to do, but it’s in the best interest of the team and she did a great job for us.”
South Central finished the season 2-21, and Thomas must replace Faith, Patterson and Kaitlyn Harl. She knows that won’t be easy, but she also knows it’s going to take patience in returning the program to a more competitive level.
“We have teams from first through fifth grade playing in leagues,” she said. “We have some camps and summer stuff planned and, for the girls who are in the high school program, we are just going to continue to pound the fundamentals and continue to improve.”
South Central 6 7 4 4 – 21
New Washington 15 15 14 16 – 60
South Central (2-21) – Kendall Kiper 8, Annabelle Faith 7, Marie Goodwin 3, Lexi Liebert 2, Lily Boley 1.
New Washington (13-12) – Kalin Campbell 14, Makynsie Barger 9, Adrian Miles 8, Julia Grace Ellison 6, MacKenzie Krause 6, Madison Helton 5, Taylor James 5, Emma DeCamp 3, Macy Fields 2, Haylie Spear 2.
3-point goals – South Central 1 (Goodwin 1); New Washington 3 (DeCamp 1, Helton 1, Miles 1).