Lady Jays battle North Adams in SHAC Preview

The entirety of the Southern Hills Athletic Conference descended upon North Adams High School last Friday night for the SHAC Girls’ Basketball Preview.

After Lynchburg, Fayetteville and West Union all took home victories (Peebles and Whiteoak tied), the Ripley Blue Jays got their chance on the court against the host Lady Devils.

The Lady Jays rallied late, but in the end the team fell just short, falling to North Adams 26-20.

At this point, the loss doesn’t mean anything. The game itself was just a fun way to let fans see the teams’ progress from last year, something North Adams head coach Rob Davis noticed immediately on the Lady Jays’ side.

“I thought they outplayed us on the boards big-time,” Davis said. “We’re bigger than they are but we just had a lot of trouble down there.”

Ripley head coach Chris Coleman noticed something similar, noting his team has to work harder to rebound the ball because of their height disadvantage.

“Not bad,” Coleman said. “We really worked on it because we knew we were going to be smaller compared to those teams.”

The Lady Jays were paced points-wise by junior Kassey Arnett, who tallied eight points on the night. freshman Cailey Kirk added five points while senior Kristen Abbott and freshman Carlee Dauton chipped in four apiece.

Having two freshman among the team leaders in scoring helps, especially when putting points on the board was a major problem for the Lady Jays last season. Coleman knows this, and said the team has to play hard to make up for it.

“Scoring,” Coleman said. “We haven’t been. We were a few years ago but last year we weren’t. We probably lost about half of our scoring from last year so we’re going to have to play as hard as we can like we did tonight. We have to take care of the basketball a little better to give ourselves a chance to score.”

Four of the nine players on the Ripley roster scored for the Jays, and that balanced scoring attack is something Coleman wants to see for the rest of the season.

“We can spread it out,” Coleman said. “If we get four to five girls to get six to eight points a night for us and some of the other ones come in and chip in three or four we can be successful.”

The balanced scoring attack is a new feature for the Ripley offense this season.

“That’s something we’re doing a bit different.,” Coleman said. “We’re going to give them a bit more freedom this year by spreading it out and letting them do a little bit more one-on-one stuff.”

The Lady Jays would have faced a tough task most nights, as North Adams’ press causes fits for opposing teams. Luckily for the Jays, the Lady Devils didn’t press that much, but when they did, Coleman and the team knew what to do to beat it.

“We talk about communication, talking to each other and telling people where they’re coming from,” Coleman said. “It really helps that some of the younger kids are picking it up. The older ones know what to do and it really helped us tonight.”

The SHAC is a tough conference, and according to Coleman, this season will be no different.

“Coach Davis is going to be good, Coach Lewis at Lynchburg will be good,” Coleman said. “You know Eastern’s going to be there by the time it’s all said and done and I think the rest of us will kind of beat each other up.”

Ripley’s girls’ squad gets their season started Saturday, November 21 with a home match against the Georgetown Lady G-Men. The match is expected to begin at 1:30.

Ripley’s Suzanne Dragoo looks to drive on Lady Devils senior Taylor Wylie in the first half of the SHAC Showcase last Friday.’s Suzanne Dragoo looks to drive on Lady Devils senior Taylor Wylie in the first half of the SHAC Showcase last Friday.

Ripley’s Kristin Abbott goes up for a layup against the Lady Devils.’s Kristin Abbott goes up for a layup against the Lady Devils.

By Garth Shanklin

Reach Garth Shanklin at 937-378-6161 or follow him on Twitter @GNDShanklin.