Dateline: Roswell, Ga: The Lady Warriors of Wilson Academy and your hometown Lady Cougars renewed their budding rivalry in a season opening exhibition match. The 2020 edition of the Lady Warriors featured an expanded roster of tall and talented players, determined to dictate the pace of the game with an aggressive press and a commitment to the fast break. The Lady Cougars entered the early evening affair eager to gauge their execution against a talented and experienced opponent.
The visitors took the first crack at the TCS defense and promptly turned the ball over. The first play seemed to serve as a template for nearly the first three minutes of the contest as first game jitters, tight defense, and unforgiving rims consistently short circuited each team’s attack. Wilson found early first quarter success in their fast break, as most points occurred as the Warriors went for broke after any TCS turnover, and after any defensive rebound. Staunch commitment to double teaming any guard bringing up the ball also took the home towners out of any offensive rhythm. At the end of quarter one, Wilson seemed poised to push the game out of reach as they plied up a 20 -0 lead.
Rather than roll over for their guests, TCS managed a number of adjustments that made for a highly competitive second stanza. Improved transition defense limited the number of easy break aways, more attention to block outs closed the door on Wilson second chance efforts, and greater court awareness seemed to improve focus on the man to man set. Rather than adding to their offensive theatrics, Wilson ground out 14 points over the eight minutes, while TCS countered with 7 points of their own. The sole senior on the squad, Alex Nebel, broke the ice for Cottage when she connected on one of her patented trifectas. New comer junior Galya Kysar battled her way to the hoop to bank home a pair of baskets of her own.
At halftime, per exhibition standards, the scoreboard reverted to zero allowing both sides to re-set with a blank slate. While the overall Cougar attack looked better aligned in the third quarter, a bevy of missed shots coupled with a re-tooled Wilson offense allowed the guests another big quarter, as they rang up 21 points to 3 for TCS. The fourth quarter saw the action tighten considerably as the Lady Cougars found confidence in solving Wilson’s perimeter pressure. Heads up passing delivered the ball to post presences Anika Helm and Emmi Rose Dillehay with consistency for the first time in the game. Both ladies combined for six points, but did not limit their offense to shooting alone. On several occasions, the post players caught the ball, and made correct reads, kicking the ball out to teammates resulting in a much more free flowing style of offense. The final quarter ended with Wilson edging out Cottage by a narrow 12 – 10 score.
Overall the Ladies Varsity enjoyed starting their campaign with a test against a formidable opponent. It gave everyone a sense of exactly what needs to be worked on, as well as some tantalizing glimpses at what we may yet achieve.
Several players made their TCS debuts in this game. For the Middle School contingent, seventh graders Reagan McMillin and Addison Nowakowski both logged first and second half minutes. They settled into the man to man concept while receiving a true baptism under fire against some physically formidable opponents. Junior transfers Galya Kysar and Anika Helm both stamped their fingerprints all over this game. Kysar ended up leading her team in scoring by nailing 10 points on a variety of free throws, daring drives, and jump shots. She also picked up 9 steals and swept the glass for 10 rebounds to fill out a well-rounded stat sheet. Helm added 4 points of her own, including the last shot of the match, an impressive offensive rebound that she banked home. Helm also recorded an assist, while corralling 8 boards of her own.
In the backcourt, eighth grader Finley Love made the very first start of her TCS career. She logged minutes in all four quarters, and although she did not enter into the scoring column, she did chase down one of her obligatory offensive rebounds that she somehow wills herself to gather each game. Middle School teammate Hannah Katz also gained playing time in each half. While the basketball gods conspired to prevent her from getting clean looks at the hoop, Katz ran the floor well and logged time during a productive TCS run in the fourth quarter. Although hobbled by an injury sophomore Lillian Travis helped to spell the backcourt, and kept fresh legs in the game as her team needed to counter the speed of the visitors. Sophomore Ana Mills embraced sixth man duties. She came off the bench to ring up an assist, force three steals, nab a pair of rebounds, and to record one emphatic blocked shot.
Alex Nebel and Emmi Dillehay provided the balance of the starting lineup. Nebel finished with 4 points on the strength of the previously mentioned three point harpoon and a second half free throw. She also made an acrobatic blocked shot, dished out 2 assists, gathered a steal, and hauled in 6 rebounds. Dillehay operated as the disruptor on defense. From her perch muscling up on post players, she snuck her way to 3 steals, while outfighting her opponents to 7 rebounds. She also recorded her first points of the season on a pretty short jumper in the frantic fourth.