Dateline – Cumming, Ga: In the penultimate game before Thanksgiving recess, the Lady Cougars traveled north to the lair of the Covenant Christian Rams. For this contest, the Lady Rams provided middle school and ninth grade competition for their visitors. This arrangement allowed the MS contingent from Cottage to receive the lion’s share of the playing time.
Tight rims, jitters, and stifling defense provided the storyline in first quarter action. Lady Rams’ shake and bake guard S. Hardy used her ball handling skills to penetrate and finish with two early baskets. Eighth grade guard standout Finley Love put her team on the board for the first time, when she striped a Lady Ram near the center circle, and outraced two backpedaling defenders to score on a layup. The first quarter ended with the home towers holding onto a 4 – 2 advantage.
As the second quarter began, Covenant came out loaded for bear, and connected on two early shots to open up a six point cushion. After nearly three minutes elapsed, TCS realized that they could not afford to allow their hosts to get on a roll and establish an even greater advantage. At this juncture, the team responded by tightening up on defense, shifting to a man to man, while rededicating themselves to rebounding. Celeste Jeoffroy in particular performed like a demon on the glass, sacrificing her body to claim defensive boards, and also fighting her way to a couple of second chance shots. As happens so often in this sport, the offense began to flow from attention to these fundamentals. Love connected on two baskets, one from an assist on an inbounds play from teammate Emmi Dillehay. She also stepped up with a short jumper. Ana Mills came off the bench to muscle in a shot from deep in the paint to knot the game at 8 just before the half.
Lifted by this quarter ending run, the Lady Cougars began half number two with a jailhouse style defense. Regean McMillin and Hannah Katz covered the wings like green on grass while Finley Love spotted up on the point guard. Lillian Travis and Jeoffroy marked up on forwards to thwart any sort of post game. Love threaded a needle through a sea of arms and legs to set Jeoffroy up for a leaner. Love later scored on an offensive rebound follow, a fast break finish, and on another “grab and go” style steal. Cottage ended the quarter without surrendering a single point, en route to an 8 point lead.
In the final frame, Covenant regained their offensive bearings with a six point outburst, led by guard A. Fleck. Although the Lady Ram’s offense geared up, TCS responded by kicking it up a notch themselves, ringing up 11 points of their own as they closed the game out with a 27 – 14 victory.
In a game where the MS players took center stage, the Lady Cougars MS contingent played extensive minutes in all four quarters. Hannah Katz, Reagan McMillin, and Finley Love earned their first starts of the season, and played a large role in their team’s success. Katz had some great looks at the basket, but on this evening tight rims conspired to prevent a score. However, the stat sheet credits Katz with a career first blocked shot, a steal, and a pair of rebounds. McMillin gained her first steal, and also squeezed off a couple of shots, while also stepping into the passing game. Love put together arguably the most intriguing performance of this young season, recording the first triple double since Dinarah Rothman pulled the trick six years ago. Love led the game with 12 points, thieved her way to 10 steals, and jumped out of her sneakers to claim 11 rebounds (including 3 from the offensive glass). Additionally she blocked a shot to stymie a break away layup, and passed for an assist.
Lillian Travis and Celeste Jeoffroy filled the other two starting positons. Travis played most of the game at the guard spot, but also jumped in to play some post for the first time in her basketball career. Travis scooped up a steal, hit the boards for a pair of ‘bounds, and jacked up a couple of pretty jumpers. Jeoffroy attacked the backboard with reckless abandon, especially in the second quarter, when her team needed it the most. She completed the game with 10 rebounds, including an eye popping 6 from the offensive end. Jeoffroy scored a basket, passed for an assist, and tallied 4 steals.
A trio of veterans provided some stability from the bench. Emmi Dillehay came off the bench in all four quarters to provide vocal leadership and a physical presence under the boards, claiming 5 rebounds, converting on a fourth quarter bucket, blocking a shot, grabbing a steal, and also dishing an assist. Counterpart Ana Mills logged time in the second quarter to help anchor the frontcourt. She scored two points and ran the floor effectively. Alyssa Briggs played the swingman role on this night, and found playing time in three quarters. She jumped in with 6 rebounds (4 offensive), stole three balls, recorded an assist, and scored 7 points, including the first successful “and one” for the team this season.