MOWRYSTOWN – The Ripley Lady Jays travelled north to Whiteoak High School for a Southern Hills Athletic Conference showdown with the Ladycats last week looking for their third conference victory.
It wouldn’t come easy. The Lady Jays had to withstand a 9-0 Whiteoak run in the second quarter and rally from a five-point deficit at the end of the third quarter, but in the end the team picked up the 34-32 victory.
Carlee Daulton helped the team’s cause in a big way early, picking up five of the team’s nine first-half points. However, the offense went cold in the second quarter, failing to score a basket for the final 4:21 of the half. The Jays led 13-10 at the time, but thanks to the cold streak the team found themselves trailing by a point at the break.
Ripley head coach Chris Coleman said after the game he wanted his players to know that they had played well in the first half, which helped the team gain confidence for the final two quarters.
“I really preached that at halftime,” Coleman said. “I thought we played a really nice half on the defensive end and even decent on the offensive end but we just came out flat for the first six minutes. I took a timeout, we got things settled down and made a few shots, which helps us out. They kind of turned the corner a little bit.”
Ripley jumped back in front 17-14 early in the third thanks to a pair of quick baskets, but Whiteoak responded with a 9-0 run over the next 2:24 of the third quarter to take a 23-17 lead. Ripley would cut that deficit to five before the end of the quarter.
The fourth quarter began with a 7-0 run by the Lady Jays that gave them a 27-25 lead. Kacy Gilkerson sparked the run with a three-pointer 45 seconds into the quarter, her first made basket of the game.
With 1:57 remaining in the contest, Kristin Abbott hit her fourth shot of the game, giving her eight points at the time and tying the game at 30. After Whiteoak made one of two free-throw attempts, Abbott hit both of her attempts t o put the Lady Jays on top.
Suzanne Dragoo checked into the game for Ripley a few seconds later and quickly found herself in the right position, grabbing a rebound and the put-back to give her squad a 34-30 lead. Whiteoak missed two of their next three free-throw attempts, but found themselves with the ball and 13 seconds left.
Maggie Carr’s three-point attempt rimmed out, however, and even though the Lady Jays missed the ensuing free-throw attempt, they were able to hold on for the victory.
Coleman attributed the win to his defense, and let the team know that after the game.
“We’re not a big scoring team,” Coleman said. “I told them in the locker room that we won this on the defensive end, it wasn’t our offense.”
Coleman was also complimentary of Whiteoak, noting the team’s prowess on the offensive end of the court gave his team trouble at times.
“Coach Adams has done a nice job,” Coleman said. “Wardlow has started for four years I believe, she’s a 1,000 point scorer. [Maggie] Carr is an excellent player herself. They just play extremely hard, they’re hard to guard.”
Dragoo finished with six points, four behind Abbott’s team-leading 10. Coleman said Dragoo is getting better as the season goes on, despite not playing last season.
“Suzanne played well,” Coleman said. “She really did. She’s improving. She didn’t play last year, she’s a senior and she’s stepped her game up some.”
The team returned to the court Saturday afternoon for a non-league match against Blanchester. Ripley found themselves trailing after the first quarter, but a strong defensive effort in the second period allowed the squad to tie the game at 19 at halftime. However, Ripley would score just 12 points the rest of the way and fall to the Ladycats 40-31.
The Lady Jays had 26 free-throw attempts but converted just 13 of them. Abbott hit four of those 13 and led the Lady Jays with eight points in the contest.
Coleman said it was important for his team to play squads like Blanchester as the team prepares for the tournament.
“That’ll help us,” Coleman said. “When we get in tournament time, we need to have seen teams like that. They do it on the defensive end like we do.”
Ripley will not return to the court until the squad faces the Eastern Lady Warriors in a road SHAC contest on Jan. 21 at 7:30 p.m.