Dateline: Atlanta, Ga – In a rare Saturday night contest, the Lady Cougars secured their first ever victory over the Atlanta Jewish Academy Jaguars. In the previous three meetings between the two squads, AJA used an up tempo offense and near flawless offensive execution to overpower TCS. On this night, the Lady Cougars successfully flipped the script, ringing up 52 points of their own.
The first quarter began with the visitors controlling possession for early 50 seconds before losing possession. Switching to defense, Cottage resorted to their zone option which seemed to throw sand into the gears of the Lady Jags offensive machine. Staunch defense, attention to rebounding responsibilities, and sharp passing allowed TCS to control the tempo of the first eight minutes. Alyssa Briggs led the way with three early buckets, as backcourt mates Galya Kysar and Alex Nebel chipped in two hoops of their own. At the close of the first stanza, the Lady Cougars held a 15 – 6 advantage.
As all students of the sport know, a typical basketball contest features a number of ebbs and flows. True to this adage, AJA made their run next, capitalizing on offensive rebounds to punish the visitors again and again. Indeed, seven of the Lady Jaguars 13 second quarter points came as a result of their center fighting for boards, drawing the foul, and nailing her shots at the line. On the other side of the ledger, the Lady Cougars did grind out 8 points of their own, with Ana Mills muscling home a key shot when it appeared that the home team might be able to pull nearly even. As the buzzer sounded to close the half, Cottage still slung to a narrow 4 point advantage.
At the half the team quickly reached the consensus that greater attention to boxing out would serve everybody’s best interest. To mix things up, the squad shifted their defense to pick up the point guard deeper in the backcourt. These two adjustments paid immediate dividends as the ladies piled up 13 third quarter points. The Lady Jaguars did not roll over though. Denied on easy put backs and fouls from deep in the paint, AJA looked to #21 who nailed 6 big points over the period to keep her team within striking distance.
By the final frame, the Lady Cougars sensed that their undermanned opponents might soon hit the wall of fatigue. In order to help them reach that breaking point more quickly, the ladies upped the defensive pressure and forced a flurry of turnovers in the opening minutes. The turnovers, coupled with smooth efficiency in the half court set, allowed the visitors to pour in 16 points en route to their 52 – 30 victory.
Next week, the Lady Cougars will enjoy some “home cooking.” On Tuesday the MS Lady Cougars will host Covenant Christian Academy, while on Thursday they will host both the MS and HS teams from Sugar Hill Christian Academy.
Although the lion’s share of points in this particular game came from the backcourt, the TCS frontcourt played a big part in the win. Anika Helm and Emmi Dillehay both held down the starting duties. Dillehay bossed her way to a pair of boards, forced 3 steals, threaded the needle for 2 assists, and made a bucket of her own from the block. Helm did most of her damage on the offensive glass, scooping up 6 of her 9 rebounds from that end. Helm also connected on a shot from inside the paint, while also swatting away 5 shots. Sophomores Ana Mills and Celeste Jeoffroy spelled their frontcourt counterparts throughout the night. Jeoffroy corralled 2 rebounds, and also dished for an assist. Mills matched Jeoffroy’s board total while also knocking down the big second quarter shot described in the summary.
Finley Love and Lillian Travis represented the other bench relief available to the team for this contest. Love logged playing time in both halves, earning her obligatory offensive rebound in the process. She also squeezed off a couple of good looks, but did not score on this night. Travis check in during the fourth quarter and promptly assisted Dillehay’s basket, while also stepping into her zone responsibilities well.
In a night where the points flowed freely, all three starters at the guard spot had their moments to shine. Senior Alex Nebel reached double digits for the first time this season, with 10 points. Unleashing her inner Doctor Strangelove (the man infatuated with the bomb), Nebel swished home a pair of three pointers, and as pair of conventional jump shots to account for her scoring. Additionally, Nebel hit the glass for 2 offensive boards, stole two balls, and led all players with 4 assists. Galya Kysar checked in with another exceptionally well rounded game. Scoring in very quarter, she amassed 14 points, as she also fought her way to 9 rebounds (4 from the offensive end). Kysar was also credited with 2 assists, and 11 very big steals. Ninth grader Alyssa Briggs responded with a monster offensive game, earning a game high 22 points scored in almost every way imaginable: a three point dagger, a foul shot, daring drives through heavy traffic, mid-range jumpers, and fast break finishes. Not content to play to a one dimensional game, Briggs also gained three steals of her own 3 boards, while also passing for an assist.