Dateline: Alpharetta, Ga. The Lady Cougars kick started conference action in emphatic fashion with a 45 – 19 victory over the Lady Mustangs at Mill Springs Academy on Wednesday afternoon. The Cougars took advantage of their health, and a deep bench to propel themselves to the road win.
The first quarter set the tone for the rest of the contest, as aggressive defense and careful attention to rebounding provided the visitors with a decisive edge. Generating early turnovers off an a trapping scheme, the Cougars put up five quick points before the home town veteran Madison Taylor connected on a shot of her own. Undaunted, Cottage rededicated to applying the pressure defensively, and denied MSA any more scores in the first frame. Senior Alex Nebel led the way offensively, ringing up 5 points with long range jumpers in this opening quarter. Junior Emmi Dillehay powered home a field goal, as sophomore sixth man Ana Mills and freshman Alyssa Briggs added shots of their own. The first quarter ended with TCS holding a 9 – 2 edge.
The Lady Mustangs showed more signs of offensive life during second period action, as three players combined for 6 points. In response junior Galya Kysar took hold of the offensive reigns, piling on 8 points on a mix of drives, jumpers, and offensive rebounds. Junior Anika Helm scored on a put back, and Briggs knocked down another jump shot, which allowed Cottage to double the Mustang’s output. The offensive flow and continued defensive focus allowed TCS the luxury of delving deep into their bench before the end of the first half. The halftime score showed the visitors pulling away with a 23 – 8 lead.
Determined not to allow the Lady Mustangs out of their corral, the Lady Cougars began new half with focus and resolve. The third quarter witnessed balanced scoring as four ladies combined for another 12 point outburst, while stingy defense limited MSA to a score by Taylor. By fourth quarter, Cottage fully integrated all members of the bench into the game. The bench responded by stringing together 10 points, while only surrendering 8, allowing Cottage to escape with a 45 – 19 road win.
Juniors Emmi Dillehay and Anika Helm held down starting post duties for their team. Dillehay ran the floor effectively while applying defensive pressure. She muscled home a first quarter shot, on an assist from Alex Nebel, while also gaining a steal, hauling down 4 rebounds, and using all five of her fouls. Helm played an inspired game off the boards, hauling down a game high 14 rebounds (with an eye popping 10 coming from the offensive glass). Not surprisingly, all 6 of her points came on the strength of offensive follows. On the defensive end, Helm threw back 3 shots, and also stole 2 balls.
Sophomore Ana Mills, seventh grader Addison Nowakowski, and newcomer Celeste Jeoffroy provided depth for the frontcourt. Mills actually performed as a swingman, shuttling between frontcourt and backcourt action. Mills hauled in 6 boards, matched with 6 points, 3 steals, and an assist. Jeoffroy did not connect on her shots, but showed exciting glimpses of the energy that she can bring to the table. She nabbed 2 rebounds, and in a frantic fourth quarter came up with two exciting steals, while running the floor well. Nowakowski got into the passing game, and was able to apply man to man principles learned in practice to a game situation.
A number of youngsters provided backcourt relief. Eighth grader Finley Love logged important minutes in both halves. Her active hands netted 3 steals, 4 rebounds (including one offensive), and 4 points on the strength of two courageous drives in the fourth quarter. Sophomore Lillian Travis showed activity on both ends of the court. Travis chipped in with a total of 4 ‘bounds (including 1 offensive) from her perch in the backcourt. Travis was also credited with a steal. Seventh grader Reagan McMillin also checked in during both halves. She deflected a pass, picked up a loose ball, and also got thrown into the man to man scheme against more experienced foes.
The starting backcourt provided both the adrenaline and the steadying hand for their teammates from wire to wire. Senior Alex Nebel added yet another three pointer to her career total en route to scoring 5 points. She also dished out 2 assists, thieved 6 balls, and fought her way to 4 rebounds (2 on each side of the court). Freshman Alyssa Briggs scored a jumper in each quarter to tally 8 points for the game. She also took advantage of her quick hands to gain 5 steals, while corralling 2 rebounds, and passing for 4 assists. Junior Galya Kysar put together another well rounded game. She led the game with 12 points, powered her way to 11 rebounds (6 offensive), tallied a blocked shot, and also ball hawked her way to 7 steals.
The Lady Cougars will play their official home opener this Friday as they host local private school power Lyndon Academy.