Dateline – Roswell, Ga. In a bizarre, but closely contested and entertaining contest, the Lady Indians of Cross Keyes made the trek from Decatur into the lair of the Lady Cougars. This marks the third consecutive year that Cottage faced off against this public school rival.
Cottage won the opening tip, but could not convert on the possession. This first foray set the stage for the next eight minutes, as each side rose to the defensive occasion to make stop after stop. Junior Alex Nebel broke the scoring logjam in spectacular fashion as she splashed home a three point harpoon off a clever reversal. Cross Keyes managed to score a conventional bucket of their own, which accounted for all of the first quarter scoring. The second frame proved just as unforgiving to the offensive game as the first. Eighth grader Alyssa Briggs converted one of two free throws after tricking a Cross Keyes defender into fouling her in the act of shooting. Emmi Dillehay came off the bench to bank home a short jumper, as center Shakirah Wazeerud-Din adroitly set a screen to shield her teammate from the grasping defenders. The visitors muscled home two hoops of their own to knot the score at six points apiece as the first half closed.
Emerging from an abbreviated halftime respite, Cottage emerged only to find that Cross Keyes discovered something of an offensive groove, nearly doubling their point total to 15 by the end of the third quarter. Despite earning some trips to the foul line, the only Cougar scoring came in the form of two Wazeerud-Din power moves from deep in the paint. Now facing a five point deficit in a game where points seemed few and far between, TCS now needed to gamble to a degree on defense. While their pressure did net some turnovers, adroit passing allowed the visitors to connect on five fourth quarter buckets, while TCS ground out 5, sealing up a 25 – 15 win for the Indians. The final 1:30 of the contest featured the never before employed line up the Lady Cougar’s “Young Guns,” as Elanor Gaffneystone, Malia Richards, Hannah Katz, Leighton Braglia, and Lillian Travis all took to the court as a unit. In a madcap scramble, the youngsters made a stop, and unleashed a number of shots on the goal. This writer will need to wait until the film of the contest comes available to accurately reconstruct this closing flurry, as a sea of Lady Cougars from the bench arose to cheer their teammates on, effectively obscuring my view of the action. I can report with certainly, however, that freshman Lillian Travis chased down a loose ball, juked her way to the hoop, and converted on a mid-range runner to record her team’s final basket of the game, and Travis’ first points of her varsity career.
The Lady Cougars now prepare for a match up with significant playoff implications as they will make a Wednesday trip to the Atlanta Area School of the Deaf.
Cottage’s center play again came from the big three. Shakirah Wazeerud-Din led her team with 4 points, pulled down 9 rebounds, stole two balls, and held her own “block party” with 3 emphatic rejections. Tracy Li patrolled the offensive glass like a tigress, yanking down 4 offensive boards (and 5 overall). Her unrelenting activity off the glass earned her a trip to the foul line, where the sophomore center scored her first point of the year. Additionally, Li gained a steal, and recorded a block of her own. Leighton Braglia entered the fray in the scramble at the close of the game where she kept the green jerseys off the boards, allowing her teammates second shots at the goal.
As always, guard play figured prominently in the Cougar game plan. On this evening, Alex Nebel received the starting nod, responding with the already mentioned three point dagger, along with an offensive board, a steal, and a blocked shot to stymie a fast break. Alyssa Briggs converted on a free throw for her point. She also generally held down point guard duties, recording two assists, grabbing 3 steals, and snaking her way to claim an offensive rebound. Senior Maria Knezek continued her thieving ways as she snatched away 6 balls from the visitors. Knezek also threaded the needle to record an assist, she hit the boards 3 times, and also nailed both of her free throws to account for her 2 points. The Youth Movement found sound representation as backcourt subs. Finely Love jumped from the dentist chair to first half action, where she hit the hardwoods in pursuit of loose balls, and fought her way to a steal. Maxine Moore, Hannah Katz, Eleanor Gaffneystone, Malia Richards, and Lillian Travis all had a hand in the roller coaster ride that was the last minute and a half of the contest. Katz is credited with a rebound, Travis chased down 2 of her own, to go with her two point runner. Richards squeezed off a couple of short jumpers of her own.
Additional post presence came in the form of starter Ana Mills, and substitutes Emma Altermatt and Emmi Dillehay. Mills tallied a steal, a blocked shot, while also keying a couple of fast break opportunities, and getting back effectively on transition defense. Altermatt and Dillehay both settled into their preferred roles in the high post, where they worked the double team to great effect against Cross Keyes. In addition to her 2 points, Dillehay also chalked up an assist.