Dateline: Roswell, Ga. On Thursday evening the Lady Saints of Johnson Ferry made their debut appearance at the Cougar Center. Representing the Georgia Independent Christian Athletic Association, the Lady Saints took their 3 – 2 record into Roswell in their square off against TCS.
In the opening minutes of the contest the Saints made effective use of a motion offense attack, while hitting the boards with reckless abandon to reel off the first five hoops of the game. Junior Emily Daugherty drew a foul while shooting, and connected on one of the two free throws to put her team on the scoreboard. A few possessions later, Freshman Tracy Li received a pass from Natalie Yager, pivoted toward the hoop, and tossed up a shot as she absorbed a body blow from a blue defender. The ball swished through the hoop as the referee blew his whistle to indicate the opportunity for an “and one” score. Continued offensive efficiency by the visitors allowed them create some more margin, as the first eight minutes ended with Johnson Ferry claiming a 17 – 3 advantage.
In the second quarter, the Lady Cougars made some key adjustments to lock down the foul line area, where the Saints made their living during their first big run. Denied this comfortable option, and experiencing greater harassment on the perimeter, the Saints offensive attack stalled out, completely, as they did not score for the balance of the first half. Yager shouldered the offensive burden during this frame as she tallied 3 points, while backcourt mate Maria Knezek tossed in a bucket of her own as the gap closed to nine points by halftime.
As the third half began, it seemed that the Saint’s offensive woes morphed into a contagious organism, attaching itself to the Lady Cougars. Despite working the ball around and getting a number of sound looks at the hoop, Cottage only eked out a point in the third. Timely outside shooting allowed the visitors to push the advantage to 16. At the fourth quarter began, Johnson Ferry guard K. Carr knocked down a three point bomb, followed with a couple of follow up fifteen footers, giving every indication that the visitors meant to run their hosts out of the gym. Rather than folding up like a cheap lawn chair, Cottage forced the issue on the offensive end of the court, making a concerted effort to feed the post, while also hitting the offensive boards with reckless abandon. The Lady Cougars earned several trips to the charity stripe, while Julia Baumohl and Maria Knezek connected on conventional hoops of their own. In the end, the rally fell short as Johnson Ferry came away with a 34 – 15 victory.
On this evening, the bench provided an important lift for the Lady Cougars. Emily Daugherty filled the sixth man role, and found action in each quarter of the game. Daugherty connected on a free throw if the first quarter, forced 2 steals, and strong armed her way to 7 rebounds (including 3 from the offensive glass). Alex Nebel squeezed off some pretty jumpers, but encountered some absurdly tight rims. Nebel also stole 2 balls, and lassoed 5 rebounds. Tracy Li also saw action in all four quarters, scoring 2 points, gathering a rebound, and also swatting back a shot issued from the low post. Maxine Moore, Analin Merchant, and Hannah Katz also checked into the game. Moore snatched a fourth quarter rebound. Merchant and Katz took on guard responsibilities late in the game. They contributed to the helter skelter defensive atmosphere that seemed part and parcel of the TCS fourth quarter.
Natalia Hoeve, Maria Knezek, and Natalie Yager constituted the starting backcourt for the night. Hoeve stepped into the passing game as evidenced by her assist. Although tally marks did not crowd out her stat line, Hoeve made her mark by her willingness to shoot, and her affinity for chasing down the basketball. Knezek paced her team with 4 points and 7 steals. She also handed out an assist, chased down 3 boards, and committed to bearing down on the primary ball handler on each and every play. Yager showed great offensive instincts in pulling up with her own shots within the flow of the offense. She connected on three points, pulled down 3 offensive boards, and 2 defensive caroms as well. Yager also added an assist, while also harassing the Saints into 2 steals.
Brandy Michelle Finnell and Julia Baumohl held down the post positions from the opening tip. Baumohl recorded an assist, made a big block of her own, and came down with 5 rebounds (including 2 from the offensive end). She also muscled in a basket in the fourth quarter. Finnell matched her season high with 17 big boards, with 6 snatched from the offensive glass. Finnell connected on two free throws, and gained 2 steals.