Fans got their first look at the four-time defending Southern Hills Athletic Conference champions Wednesday night as the North Adams Lady Devils scrimmaged Greenfield McClain.
Both the varsity and junior varsity squads played multiple quarters against the Tigers only a few days after fall athletes have moved over to winter sports.
“We need to work on ball handling and passing and we didn’t shoot it well but we just got these guys back from soccer and volleyball so we were practicing the first week with about five kids,” North Adams head coach Rob Davis said. “We’ve had, I think, three or four practices with everybody here.”
McClain jumped all over the varsity squad in their first scrimmage to a 6-2 lead that could have been much larger had the Tigers not missed multiple layups off of back cuts, an area Davis said he needs his team to improve upon.
Layups by sophomore Avery Harper and junior Madison Jenkins, the two tallest girls on the court, got the North Adams offense going initially, but a long offensive drought afterwards allowed McClain to jump out to a 17-7 lead.
A couple of free throws by Harper and a three-pointer by freshman Grace McDowell closed out the first quarters of the scrimmage with the scoreboard reading 19-13 McClain.
The junior-varsity North Adams squad jumped all over McClain in their first scrimmage forcing the Tigers into 14 turnovers in the 16 minute scrimmage, allowing zero points.
Sophomore Brooklyn Stout had multiple layups for North Adams and junior Allison Harper hit a three from the wing. Stout ended the workout with a jumper from the short corner and the JV squad walked away with a 14-0 shutout.
The junior varsity squads played again later on in the evening, this time with McClain getting into their offensive rhythm and coming through with a 13-10 decision.
The varsity squads played two more scrimmages with North Adams knocking down some shots in a 21-14 win while McClain won the final scrimmage in a more defensive battle, 15-10.
With one point guard out with an injury and another home sick, Davis was forced to use his third and fourth point guards fresh off the volleyball and soccer seasons.
“Maddie Toole [and Laykyn Hupp] stepped in tonight and played hard,” Davis said. “I told them, ‘It’s the first scrimmage. We’re going to make mistakes.’ But we’ll be OK when we get those two back.”
North Adams had an obvious size advantage over McClain and will likely have that luxury most of the season.
“Our passing has to get better,” Davis said. “But [post play] is going to be one of our strong points this year. We’ve just got to be patient and get the ball down low. Avery missed a ton of shots early and then she got a little bit better in the second half.”
Still, Davis said his team needs to work on better passes, especially into his post players.
“We don’t pass the ball when teammates are open and then we’ll wait too long and then pass it,” Davis said. “A couple of times we had Madison try to force it into Avery but all we had to do was kick it to the side to get that girl off Avery so she can get her one-on-one. But instead of making the extra pass we try to force it inside.”
With a small senior class, Davis said he expects a bit of a learning curve as his team tries to capture their fifth SHAC title in a row.
“We’re young with only two seniors,” Davis said. “The rest are juniors and sophomores with one freshman, who’s going to be a good one. But we’ve got a lot to learn still.”
Reach Charles Grove at 937-544-2391 or firstname.lastname@example.org.