Dateline – Roswell, Ga. In a rare Saturday afternoon game, Cottage School renewed their budding rivalry with the Lady Hawks of Al Falah Academy. Last season marked the inaugural clash between the two programs, as the Lady Cougars scored two closely contested, and hard fought victories. This match began unpropitiously with a late start due to a mix up about tip off time. When the opposing team arrived, the officials directed two sixteen minute halves of action, with an abbreviated halftime.
Al Falah struck quickly, winning the tipoff, and getting the ball to last year’s main scorer, number “0” Haneen, who banked home a shot from deep inside the paint. The field goal would represent the last Lady Hawk lead of the game. By in large, the Cougars moved the ball around well, and got the types of shots that they wanted, but tight rims conspired to limit the TCS scores. Senior Shakirah Wazeerud-Din eventually connected on a banker from the right block to knot the score, while fellow upperclassmen Maria Knezek shook loose from the defenders to notch a bucket of her own, pushing her squad into the lead. In the final minutes of the half, center Wazeerud-Din again scored from the post position, stretching the advantage to 4 points. An Al Falah mid-ranger accounted for the last score of the half. Overall, the Lady Cougars avoided the dreaded slow start that so often hampered their performance this season, and demonstrated superior commitment to deference, which forced a number of Al Falah turnovers.
Realizing that a two point lead would not put away such a physical and persistent foe, the Lady Cougars re-committed to hardnosed play, and to fine tuning the shooting. The defensive pressure remained a constant, and certainly prevented Al Falah from ever generating anything resembling a smooth offensive flow. When not picking pockets, stepping into the passing lanes, or securing defensive rebounds, the Lady Cougars looked to activate their offense. In the end, the old fashioned drive served as Cottage’s most dangerous weapon. Alyssa Briggs tallied all six of her points in second half action, on the strength of two field goals earned on hard charges into the lane, and on two free throws, as deep drives demanded overactive responses from the Lady Hawks. Knezek responded with two lay-ups of her own, and freshman Ana Mills joined the scoring parade as she connected on a short shot over defenders. On the other side of the ledger, TCS only surrendered six second half points.
As the buzzer sounded to conclude the contest, the scoreboard revealed that the Lady Cougars continued their win streak against Al Falah with a 20 – 10 final score.
Due to a short bench and mounting injuries, TCS featured a slightly different center combination for this contest. Shakirah Wazeerud-Din again filled the starting role, and made a large impact, especially in setting the tone in the opening minutes. The veteran senior nailed all 6 of her points from the post, to go along with 4 rebounds (3 plucked from the offensive glass), 3 steals, and 4 big blocked shots. The rejection action seemed to dissuade the Al Falah post players from operating near the hoop. Emmi Dillehay, known for her supreme versatility, concentrated on center play. She tallied 2 rebounds (one on each end of the court), but effectively held the fort down under the hoop, while keeping the dark jerseys at bay. Leighton Braglia rounded out the trio, logging playing time in both halves, and ensuring that the Lady Hawks would not find relief to their low post woes during her tenure on the court.
Only two other players came off the (“short”) bench to spell the starters. For this contest, Ana Mills took on the sixth man role. Her commitment to transition defense, and to aggressive rotations in the zone earned her large minutes. In addition to her second half score, Mills forced a steal, and went to the boards 3 times (2 offensive). Lillian Travis checked in at the guard spot to close out both halves. She showcased her dribbling skills in late game action, and was also credited with forcing a turnover.
Emma Altermatt returned to the starting line-up to share post duties with her senior counterpart. Altermatt rotated efficiently on defense close down the passing lanes, as evidenced by her 2 steals. She also gained 2 rebounds.
Alex Nebel did not resume her hotter than the sun shooting performance from the Atlanta Area School game, but she did play a pivotal role in facilitating the offense, as she passed for a game high 4 assists. On the defensive side of the ledger, Nebel rejected two shots, and came up with 3 steals.
Alyssa Briggs contributed to the squad’s balanced scoring with her 6 previously described second half points. Briggs also stepped up defensively, thieving a total of 7 balls, and corralling 3 boards.
Maria Knezek chipped in with the apparently obligatory 6 points, to compliment her game high 10 steals, and 4 rebounds (2 from each end of the court).
The Lady Cougars will close out the 2019 year with a final home match Wednesday afternoon at 4:00 PM.Against