Dateline: Roswell, Ga. This season’s edition of the Lady Cougars made played their inaugural game on Halloween Eve, as they played host to the Lady Jaguars of Atlanta Jewish Academy. This first ever meeting between the two squads showcased the expected levels of early season rust and jitters, but also offered some tantalizing clues about what direction the squads may take over the coming months.
The first frame could best be described as an old fashioned rock fight. Each team employed quick defensive rotations, and a willingness to get down and dirty. Such aggressive defensive play, coupled with the jitters and rust, slowed the game to a crawl. AJA attempted to establish the fast break, but apart from one sneak away, the Lady Cougars jammed the outlet passer effectively, often forcing the Jags into poor passes. Unfortunately, Cottage could not get anything going on the offensive end, and the quarter ended with the visitors claiming a slim 5 – 0 edge.
The second and third quarters saw more of the same, except that the Lady Jaguars opened up their offense a little more, tallying 11 points in the second and 12 in the third. A three point bomb, and some other timely outside shots, along with a few fast breaks allowed the visitors to build their advantage. Cottage got on the board in the third, when Julia Baumohl connected on a short face up jumper, followed a few moments later with a textbook perfect Maria Knezek jumper, from just to the right of the elbow.
In the final frame, Cottage experimented with some novel lineups, and some position switching. Despite the risks associated with mixing assignments up, TCS only surrendered 5 points over the last eight minutes.
With one game under their belt, the Lady Cougars go back to work Wednesday afternoon in preparation for their Thursday match against their GA-400 rival, the Lady Rams of Covenant Christian Academy.
Seniors Julia Baumohl and Brandy Michelle Finnell anchored the post positions as starters. Finnell led her team with 9 rebounds, while also squeezing off a number of shots from inside the paint, a pretty baby hooks, and a couple of trips to the foul line. Finnell also sparked the offense as the designated inbounder for most of the night. In addition to her third quarter bucket, Baumohl sported an eclectic stat sheet that included 4 steals, 2 boards, and one forceful blocked shot.
Emily Daugherty took to the hardwoods for the first time in a high school game as a starter. Daugherty fought her way to two early offensive rebounds, while also earning a trip to the charity stripe.
Sophomore Alex Nebel and Freshman Natalia Hoeve both provided early relief from the bench. The ever active Nebel picked the ball from the Jags on three occasions, while also grabbing 2 rebounds. Hoeve shook off early foul trouble to claim 5 caroms off the glass (including 2 offensive), while also ball hawking the AJA guards.
Ninth graders Tracy Li and Anna Scalf jumped into the first game of their high school careers with both feet. Scalf logged time on the perimeter and in the post. She came away with 3 boards, and also squeezed off some sound jump shots within the flow of the offense. The official book credited Li with a steal and 2 rebounds. She also managed to fight for position in the face of determined post defense to get the ball on the block, and to squeeze off some shots at the goal.
Analin Merchant made her long awaited return to the Lady Cougars. Merchant also divided her playing time between the perimeter and the post, coming up with a rebound, while also running the floor effectively.
This game also witnessed an unusual confluence, as two middle school students made their varsity debuts on the same evening. Sixth grade student Hannah Katz checked in near the end of the first quarter where she helped spell the backcourt after a most intense first quarter. Seventh grader Findley Love made her entrance in the second quarter with an encore appearance in the second half. Love hauled down a rebound and also took advantage of the opportunity to dribble the ball up court to activate the offense.
Senior Natalie Yager and Junior Maria Knezek handled starting backcourt duties. Both players showed off their patented hard-nosed, defensive style. Yager knocked the ball away for three steals, while Knezek came up with three of her own. Sweeping in from the backcourt, Yager corralled 5 boards of her own, as Knezek gained 1 to go with her 2 points.
Maxine Moore, Shakeria Wazeerud-Din, and Bethany Lingle all picked up Did Not Plays in the stat book, as all three remain sidelined with injuries, but all maintained a vocal presence to urge on their teammates.