Dateline – Sandy Springs: The Lady Cougars prowled into the lair of the Lady Jaguars of AJA to close the books on their out of conference schedule. In recent years this match-up represented something of a jump ball, with both squads gaining victories over the other. For the first three quarters this contest promised a squeaker as befits the close rivalry, only to see the TCS defensive pressure blow the game wide open in the closing period.
Throughout the game, three factors remained constant: the visitors could not buy a basket, Cottage pressure generated a bevy of turnovers, and AJA’s standout center would carry their offensive load. In the opening minutes the Lady Cougars nailed the first six points. Senior Kendall Betzer shook loose under the rim to power home the first score, and then junior Finley Love hit a jumper and swished two free throws. Everything seemed so free and easy, but then the Jags showed their claws and retaliated, drawing to an 8 to 8 tie. Middle School starter Gabby Pressnall showed her range by splashing home a three ball to give her team an 11-8 edge. Over the next few minutes a cold snap put a chill on the TCS offensive machine, as the team only managed 5 points. Fortunately their defense remained staunch, only surrendering 6 points to the Lady Jaguars. In the third sixth grader Grace Workman chipped in four timely points as Cottage outscored their foes by 4. The fourth quarter proved decisive as the twenty-four prior minutes of unrelenting pressure finally took its toll on AJA. Rallying under senior Alyssa Brigg’s six fourth quarter points Cottage achieved separation by outsourcing their hostesses by 8 finishing the game with a 34 – 20 victory.
The Cougars face a huge test at Howard on Thursday in their quest to complete an undefeated regular season in conference before the playoffs begin on Monday.
Eleanor Gaffneystone, Malia Richards, Bonnie Bolton-Hogg, and Grace Workman all shuttled in and out of the game, each marking up with virtually every player that AJA fielded over the course of the game. Gaffneystone grabbed a steal, and generally made life miserable for the AJA guards and swingmen. Richards also caught the team wide offensive blues, but bossed her way to 2 offensive and 2 defensive rebounds. Bolton-Hogg interfered with virtually every pass intended for the frontcourt players as evidenced by her 7 steals. She also gained an assist and hit the board for 4 ‘bounds (3 offensive). Workman provided the spark on both ends of the court, leading her team in steals (11), and nailing 10 points. She also tallied an assist and came up with 3 rebounds (2 offensive).
As the only true center suiting up for the game, Kendall scored two points from deep in the paint, and hauled down a mean offensive bound. She also kept #2 off the boards on several occasions to prevent the hot shooting center from picking up more easy buckets.
Finley Love did her scoring damage early, netting all 4 of her points in the opening minutes. She played a balanced game as evidenced by her blocked shot, 5 steals, 2 assists, and 6 rebounds (4 offensive). Backcourt mate Gabby Pressnall connected on scores in three different quarters ending up with seven points to go along with 5 steals and 2 rebounds (1 secured at each end of the court).
Sara Tolchinsky scored her bucket as she finished off a third quarter fast break. She also blocked a shot, dished for an assist, stole 4 balls, and snuck through white jerseys to pull down 7 points – 5 off the offensive glass.
Alyssa Briggs finished the game with 9 points, 10 rebounds and a slew of other interesting stats. She corralled 3 steals, passed for a team high 3 assists, and held a personal block party by throwing back 4 blocked shots.