Dateline: Atlanta,Ga. –In a game fraught with bragging rights and playoff implications, the Lady Cougars took the road to do basketball battle with the high flying Howard Hawks. Both squads entered the contest with identical 1 – 1 conference records and a strong desire to gain an early season lift.
Howard struck first with an early bucket, and applied thepress defense from the get go. The pressure generated early TCS turnovers, but sound transition defense and some big individual defensive efforts prevented the game from reaching blowout proportions in the first stanza. At th eend of eight minutes, the Lady Hawks tallied 10 points, while Julia Baumohl canned a high post jumper to account for Cottage’s 2 points. The second quarter witnessed the same level of hyperkinetic defense, but adjustments helped TCS to cut down on the turnovers. Both teams evidenced great difficulty in executing their offenses, but Howard ground out 6 second quarter points, while jumpers by Baumohl and Knezek off the strength of sound ball movement added 4 to the TCS overall score.
In order to force the issue and tighten the game up, TCS emerged from the halftime respite with a plan to extend the defensive pressure in order to generate turnovers. The approached met with mixed success. On the one hand, Cottage did force a number of steals and travel violations, but on the other hand the extended pressure seemed to tap out the last reserves of energy for the perimeter players. Howard overcame the bevy of turnovers to pump in 12 third quarter and 10 fourth quarter points. Cottage’s best run occurred early in the third frame when they squeezed off 6 points interspersed with a number of Howard miscues. During that stretch, the frontcourt of Brandy Michelle Finnell and Baumohl went to work from the low and high posts respectively. Finnell powered home a three footer while absorbing a body blow from a Howard defender. On two occasions Baumohl received the ball in the high post and converted on her patented mid-range jumpers. By game’s end, Howard enjoyed a 38 – 12victory and the ensuing pre-holiday psychological bounce. However, as the Coaching staff never tires of preaching, “The goal is to peak in February for the playoffs .”
The starting front court received a re-shuffling as supersub Alex Nebel gained the starting nod along with perimeter fixtures Natalie Yager and Maria Knezek. Nebel tallied an assist, a steal and 5 rebounds. The lingering quad injury limited Yager’s minutes for the second straight game, but that did not deter her from jumping in with customary well rounded game. Yager grabbed 5 boards (including 2offensive), disrupted her hosts with 4 steals, while also initiating the offense. True to form, the Thief ofRoswell turned in another defensive gem, as she poked the ball lose 10times. Knezek also rang up 3 assists, a career high 4 offensive boards, 1 defensive carom, a blocked shot, and 2points.
Emily Daugherty came off the bench in her familiar sixth man role. Swinging between the frontcourt and guard positons, Daugherty hit the glass hard, totaling 6 on the night. She also came up with 3 steals,and took over in bounding duties for the first time this season.
Natalia Hoeve came off the bench to relieve the guards. Hoeve gained 2 rebounds, played tough defense, and hit the floor in spectacular fashion in pursuit of loose balls.
Tracy Li provided depth to the Cougars’ front court attack. Li attacked the boards, hauling down 3 rebounds, while effectively closing out Howard players on the block.
Maxine Moore, Annalin Merchant, along with the Middle School contingent of Hannah Katz and Finley Love all saw action as well. Love tricky dribbled her way into Howard defenders, Moore and Katz contributed from the wings, while Merchant took on forward responsibilities.
The starting front court of Baumohl and Finnell carried the scoring burden on this night. Finnell scored two points, and came down with a game high 17 rebounds. Yes, you read that correctly, seventeen! Five of those were swiped from the offensive glass. Finnell also added 4 steals to her nightly stat line. Baumohl lit up the scoreboard for a careerhigh 8 points, 6 rebounds, an assist, and one steal.The Lady Cougars will pack their bags for their longest road trip of the season as they depart for LaGrange Academy for a Tuesday evening rendezvous with the Lady Warriors.