Dateline – Roswell, Ga: In the final home game of the 2019-2020 campaign, the Lady Cougars hosted the Lady Alumni in a TCS annual tradition. In this year’s installment of this exhibition contest, the Alumni assembled an intriguing roster. 2005 graduate, and TCS Sports Hall of Famer Lauren Riddick came out of retirement to provide veteran leadership. Abby Karwacki (class of 2009) came back to anchor the center spot. Coming back to represent one of the Lady Cougar’s first successful playoff surges was all-purpose guard Lindsay Kandel (Class of 2011), and former A.C.C. All Star Peyton Gomez (Class of 2012). A trio of All Stars represented much more recent graduating classes: guard Marissa Edwards (2018), swingman Julia Baumohl (2019) and guard Natalie Yager (2019). Rounding out the squad were a few players with close ties to the school, After School Program teacher Lauren Soares laced up her sneakers and took her high scoring act to the game. The final piece to the Alumni puzzle included Nadine Briggs, mother of Lady Cougar Alyssa Briggs, thereby introducing one of the most intriguing storylines of the game.
The game began with the youngsters determined to force the issue, but found themselves confounded time and time again by stellar defensive efforts. Fortunately for the “current crop” they were able to match defensive and rebounding intensity. As a result, the first quarter featured stellar defensive stops, but few offensive fireworks. Over the first sight minutes, TCS carved out a 6 – 2 lead. Alex Nebel scored the first bucket of the afternoon on a jumper, while eighth graders Alyssa Briggs and Larissa Brient also banged home hoops of their own. On the other side of the ledger Nadine Briggs came off the bench to power home her team’s sole score.
In the second frame, the Lady Cougars kicked up the offensive execution to another degree, pushing out 10 points, allowing them to build a 16 – 6 halftime advantage. Maria Knezek struck on a steal and score, while Briggs scored twice, including one follow from an offensive rebound. Emmi Dillehay scored from the post on a nifty feed from Knezek. Nebel added another mid-range jumper to round out the scoring. The alumni turned the scoring over to Lauren Soares who knocked in two acrobatic finishes of her own.
As the third quarter revved up, the level of defensive execution for both teams increased exponentially. Both teams managed to eek out four points each in a quarter where physical play and defensive heroics entirely eclipsed offensive highlight real material. Perhaps the biggest play of the quarter involved the mother-daughter subplot alluded to in the introduction. Determined to pile more points to buoy her team, Alyssia Briggs received the ball baseline left extended and made a power move to the hoop. Mother Nadine Briggs stepped up to stop the penetration, prompting Alyssia to pump fake, before unleashing her shot. As befits a more experienced competitor, Mrs. Briggs did not bite on the fake, and threw back her daughter’s shot with alarming ferocity, nearly prompting Coach Lyle to place a call to Child Protective Services. Soares nailed her third bucket of the game, and Lindsay Kandel added a shot of her own. Freshman Anna Mills carried the entire Lady Cougar’s scoring load on the strength of a tip in, and a pretty coast to coast finish.
While experience and knowledge allowed the cagy alumni to hold the game close through three quarters, youth and fresh legs proved the decisive factor in the final period. Here the Lady Cougars doubled up their opponents by a quarter score of 12 – 6, in order to close out their 32 – 18 victory. Briggs and Knezek both tallied four points down the stretch, as Brient added a power move, and Natalia Hoeve canned a jumper. For the Alumni Soares, Briggs, and Kandel all connected on conventional field goals.
Tracy Li and Emma Altermatt both spelled the center positon. Altermatt boxed out effectively to gain 2 rebounds, while also playing the passing lanes to gather 2 steals. Li made her first appearance of 2020, bossing her way to 5 rebounds (1 offensive), while also gaining turnovers in the form of 1 steal and 1 blocked shot.
Larissa Brient continued her push for sixth man of the year accolades with her customary defensive and physical punch. The eighth grader rang up 4 points, assisted on a clever pass to Alex Nebel, claimed 3 rebounds (1 offensive), and forced 3 steals.
A large cast jumped into the game to keep the legs fresh in the backcourt, where the guards expended tremendous energy trying to contain the ever dangerous Lauren Soares and the potentially explosive Lindsay Kanel. Natalia Hoeve nailed a jump shot for 2 points, while doing her part to lock down the perimeter. Finley Love and Maxine Moore both found action in the second quarter. Love chased down an offensive rebound, while Moore cut down passing lanes from the wing to the post. Hannah Katz and Malia Richards both checked in during third quarter action, running the floor well on transition, while also attending to their zone responsibilities. Sixth grader Eleanor Gaffneystone hauled in an offensive rebound in fourth quarter action, while Lilian Travis matched her teammate’s number in late game playing time.
Anna Mills exhibited great versatility. Along with her customary rebounding dedication (7 total boards – 4 offensive), Mills also scored 4 points, dished for 1 assist, and claimed a steal.
Alex Nebel did launch her obligatory treys, but impacted the game in many other ways. She continually played off her teammates’ on ball pressure to harvest 5 steals. For the second consecutive game, the swingman tallied a blocked shot to go along with 5 rebounds (2 offensive). She also fed shooters with 2 assists, and scored 4 points of her own.
Emergency starter Emmi Dillehay continued to play heady ball. She bumped her way to 3 rebounds (1 offensive), and powered home a shot from the blocks.
Alyssa Briggs led the game with 10 points, again scored on a variety of shots. Fans could be excused for mistaking her for a window washer, as she wiped the offensive glass clean with 5 offensive rebounds, to go with 1 defensive carom. She also blocked a shot, and fought her way to 5 steals of her own.
Maria Knezek made her last home game “sporting the white” a memorable one. The guard led her team with 3 assists, and added 6 points. Living up to her moniker of “The Thief of Roswell,” Knezek patrolled the perimeter to pick off a game high 7 steals. Two of these she immediately converted into points with the “grab and go” action that the Cougar faithful have grown to know and love.
Next week the team takes to the road to face Al Falah Academy in a rematch of the early December contest won by the Lady Cougars. This match represents the twenty second, and final regular season game. This week will also see the unveiling of the final A.A.C. standings and playoff seedings. It appears that TCS will finish no lower than second place in this year’s tournament, our highest seeding in school history!