RIPLEY – The Ripley Lady Jays’ varsity basketball squad only consisted of nine players at the start of the season, meaning the team had to be extra careful regarding injuries.
Injuries, however, aren’t something teams can control, which is why the squad found themselves short-handed entering their season-opener against Georgetown.
The Lady Jays jumped out in front early thanks to a pair of freshman. Kursten Prater and Carlee Dauton combined to hit three three-pointers for the Lady Jays in the first quarter, giving Ripley an early 9-1 lead.
Bayley Johnson and Rachel Gibbons chipped in five points before the end of the first quarter, but the Lady Jays still led 9-6 at the end of the first frame.
The lead did not last much longer. Freshman Kassidy Siegla hit a three to tie the game at 11 and a few minutes later Johnson put in a jumper off the backboard to give the Lady G-Men a 13-11 lead, their first of the game. They would expand their margin to 21-13 by halftime.
Georgetown’s offensive prowess continued into the third quarter. Gibbons and XXX Underwood each added five points for Georgetown, who at one point found themselves on a 21-4 run.
Ripley would not go away quietly, however. Prater hit another three-pointer in the third quarter and the Lady Jays added five more baskets in the fourth, but in the end the lack of depth and unlucky bounces caught up with Ripley as they fell to Georgetown at home, 43-30.
Senior Kristen Abbott did not play in the game for the Lady Jays. Head coach Chris Coleman instead started two freshman and played a third off the bench. Coleman said he was happy with how the youngsters performed.
“The three of them I had played well,” Coleman said. “Daulton, Kirk and Jennifer Eichner coming off the bench played well. Two of them didn’t have a clue that they were going to be in this situation until two days ago. We had another injury and dropped another starter. I thought they played well.”
Ripley started the game on fire from behind the arc, but adjustments from Georgetown defensively quickly cooled the shooters off.
“They started sitting down and guarding a bit,” Coleman said. “They called timeout and he settled them down a bit defensively and then we got a little lackadaisical. We weren’t moving the ball like we were the first few minutes of the game and that cost us.”
Georgetown head coach Bernie Cropper said his team started the exact opposite way: cold from the floor. However, they knew if they kept the Lady Jays close they would have a shot to rally back.
“We came out a little flat,” Cropper said. “They hit some good shots, you have to give Ripley some credit. They hit some nice threes right there and built up a quick lead. We felt like if we kept playing they probably wouldn’t keep hitting those shots.”
The Lady Jays only scored four points in the second quarter following their hot-start in the first, all four of which came on baskets by Eichner. Part of Ripley’s problems offensively could be explained with a sequence that occurred just before the end of the first half as the team trailed 13-11. Three turnovers right before halftime led to six Georgetown points and blew the game open.
“Poor decisions,” Coleman said. “A lot of them were just bad choices that we didn’t need to make. We turned the ball over three times there at the end of the first half, turned a two-point deficit into an eight-point deficit. We clean that up and it’s probably not that bad.”
Eichner tallied six points for the Lady Jays, who were led offensively by Prater and Daulton, who each scored eight. Gibbons paced the Lady G-Men, tallying 15 points while Johnson added 10. The leadership from the two seniors was not lost on Cropper.
“We struggled offensively in particular, I thought,” Cropper said. “We didn’t execute that well but we had a two seniors, Gibbons and Johnson, step up and get some baskets when we needed them.”
Georgetown isn’t the only team dealing with issues on offense, as Coleman said the Ripley offense could be the team’s downfall this season.
“It’s going to be a struggle for us to score,” Coleman said. “That’s going to be our Achilles heel.”
Cropper noted the Lady G-Men also have room to get better.
“We’ve got a lot to improve on,” Cropper said. “We’ve got to improve on a lot of areas. We’re going to go watch the film and zero in on some things. It was good to get out here and play a game. I’ll think we’ll make a big jump before the second game.”
In junior varsity action, the Lady Jays fell to the visiting G-Men 21-2 in a game that lasted only two quarters. The injuries on the varsity squad forced shifting in the JV lineup, and as players can only play five quarters per day by Ohio High School Athletic Association rules, the JV game was shortened.
Head coach Brandon Cannon said the team struggled with turnovers, but one thing that was not lacking was the effort.
“They played hard. That’s one thing I can’t complain about, they always go at it 100 percent,” Cannon said. “As long as the kids are doing that, we’re doing our job here.”
The Ripley squads return to action Monday, November 30 for a home showdown with St. Patrick’s. Georgetown hits the court again that same night for a home match against Bethel-Tate.