Dateline – Roswell, Ga: In their return to the hardwoods, the Lady Cougars jump started their season with a 19 – 18 victory in scrimmage action against Heritage Preparatory. As expected for an early season exhibition contest, the teams showed that proficiency and fluency of execution are in progress. However, what the game lacked in polish, it more than made up for with intensity and excitement.
Both teams started the contest with a defense first mindset, committing to locking down the middle, and playing the passing lanes well. Defensive focus, coupled with cool shooting resulted in empty results for the first offensive forays. Senior Anika Helm broke the ice when she bossed her way to an offensive ‘bound. After pulling down an errant Alyssa Briggs jumper, the center powered the ball back up, and banked if off the glass for two points. Briggs attempted to mix up the offensive attack by driving hard to the bucket. Forcing the issue played into the Lady Cougars’ hands as Briggs earned a couple of trips to the charity stripe, converting a free throw, and propelling the home towners to a 3-2 edge at the end of the first frame.
The second quarter provided re-enforcement for the storyline of unyielding defense and offensive miscues. Heritage countered with two field goals, while Briggs converted one shot for TCS, allowing the visitors to steal the lead going into halftime.
Offensive execution revived to a larger degree after the halftime pow wow, as both squads pumped in 8 points apiece in the third frame. At one point, the visitors pushed their advantage to five, a dangerously wide advantage in a match where points did not come easily. Rather than caving in, Cottage pulled back to within a single point by quarter’s end. Junior Celeste Abernathy scored on a put back of her own, while Briggs scored six for the period. The final quarter provided the fans (and coaches) with a wild emotional roller coaster as neither team could salt the game away. Briggs continued to handle the offensive load punching in another six points, while freshman Finley Love poached on offensive rebound from her backcourt perch to score a short jumper. Those points provided enough for Cottage to enter the final 38 seconds with a one-point lead and the ball. In the face of intense defense, the Lady Cougars emerged from their time out, and executed their halfcourt set well enough to burn over thirty seconds from the clock. Heritage fouled, stopping the clock, and providing them with a final chance to steal the ball. Instead Love executed the inbounds play to Briggs who put down a move on the first defender. As the second defender moved in for the trap, the sophomore guard deftly passed to junior Ana Mills as time expired!
The Lady Cougars take their act on the road Friday to Sugar Hill Christian Academy, a tough opponent that they split games with last season. A special thank you to the fans who provided us with the push that we needed to get over the final hump and secure the victory.
Cross Country State Finalists Hannah Katz and Finley Love provided the bench for this opening contest. Both players logged minutes in each of the four quarters. Katz earned a rebound and matched up with tall frontcourt opponents. Love ended the match with 2 offensive rebounds and the fourth quarter put back.
The starting backcourt played a huge part in the team’s offense and defensive schemes. Junior Lillian Travis checked in with the starting nod. She recorded a gutty open court steal to short circuit a Heritage fast break, and corralled a rebound. Alyssa Briggs carried the scoring load with 13 points, but also chipped in with a total of 5 rebounds (4 offensive), 6 steals, and two blocked shots.
The frontcourt performed yeoman’s work off the boards, especially in the early going. Celeste Jeoffroy ended the contest with a game high 12 rebounds (7 offensive) to go along with her third quarter score. Anika Helm began her senior campaign with 9 rebounds (6 offensive), two points, two steals, and a monstrous blocked shot. Ana Mills set tough screens, rounded up 8 rebounds (3 offensive), stripped a ball for a steal, blocked a shot, and also beautifully broke up a fastbreak play that seemed destined for an easy Heritage layup.