It was time to hit the hardwood again and the new gym floor at North Adams High School played host on Friday, Nov. 13 to the annual Southern Hills Athletic Conference Girls Preview Night. Though all of the 10 girls’ squads have been busy practicing and scrimmaging, the preview offered them the first real opportunity to perform in full uniform in front of a large crowd. As is the preview custom, each of the five match ups lasts just two eight-minute periods.
Jumping right into the fire, Jacie Simon, the new head coach of the Manchester Lady Hounds, took her young squad to the floor for the night’s first contest, facing the unenviable task of battling the overwhelming favorite to win the SHAC, the Lynchburg Lady Mustangs. The Lady Hounds are young, as they started three freshman, and that inexperience showed early as numerous turnovers allowed Lynchburg to grab a big early advantage. Give credit to the Lady Hounds, however, as they battled all the way, but the score after two quarters of action saw the Lady Mustangs on top 34-12.
“We had youngsters versus experience out there tonight,” Simon said after the half of action. “We had jitters early and were really nervous and we just didn’t do the little things well like getting back on defense. We didn’t execute very well on offense, sometimes treating the ball like a hot potato, and we need to work on that.”
“Tonight was good for us though to get those jitters out and we need to learn from our mistakes.”
After the Fayetteville Lady Rockets topped the Eastern Lady Warriors 31-14, the next Adams County squad to take the floor was the Peebles Lady Indians, led once again by head coach Vohn Hoop. The Lady Indians came out in their patented 2-3 zone as they battled the Whiteoak Lady Wildcats. Peebles also fields a relatively young squad and welcomed back junior Jessica Sowards from injury, which should be a huge boost to their offense in the upcoming season. The match up on Friday night with the Lady Cats turned out to be an even one, so even that the half ended with the two teams tied at 17 apiece.
“I thought we were aggressive tonight taking the ball to the basket, which is something we have been working on,” Coach Hoop told the Defender. “We didn’t feed the post very well and we missed some shots underneath. We tried a little match up zone tonight to mix it up a little instead of our usual 2-3. I don’t think we played real well on either end tonight but we will get better.”
Next up was the new-look West Union Lady Dragons, another young group led by head coach Jason Claytor, with a roster including nine underclassmen, four of them freshman. The theme of “youth” seems to be prevalent in this year’s SHAC as the Lady Dragons matched up with the Fairfield Lady Lions, a team with just one senior on their roster. When the two quarters came to a close, it was the Lady Dragons leading on the scoreboard 20-15.
“I would give tonight’s performance about a ‘B’,” said Coach Claytor. “We were a little ugly and sloppy at times, but other times we looked good. I think nerves got us a little, especially early, big crowds, bright lights. We didn’t execute as well as I would have liked and we missed some shots that we would normally make.”
“We calmed down a little bit between quarters and scored 16 in the second and let the game come to us a bit. These girls have only been together for like three weeks and we are starting to gel a little, but it’s tough. If you want to win, you have to play together, it’s that simple.”
The Preview Night concluded with the host North Adams Lady Devils and head coach Rob Davis battling the Ripley Lady Jays, two teams with opposite expectations as the season begins, but the Lady Jays certainly held their own against the much taller North Adams squad, trailing just 26-20 as the two quarters came to a close.
“We played better in our last scrimmage and were just kind of OK tonight,” said Coach Davis after the half of play. “We played a lot of younger kids that second quarter, and that should help us get deeper as the season moves on. We have some pretty good post players and our high-low offense should be pretty good, but we have to stay out of foul trouble.”
“We spaced our offense pretty well tonight and made the extra pass at times, which got us good shots. We didn’t show everything we are going to do tonight.”
Basketball fans can get another dose of SHAC action this coming Friday night, Nov. 20, when it is the turn of the conference’s boys teams to see preview action. The boys preview will be hosted by Manchester High School and will include the following matchups: 5 p.m.-North Adams vs. Eastern, 6 p.m.-Fayetteville vs. Ripley, 7 p.m.-Whiteoak vs. West Union, 8 p.m.-Fairfield vs. Lynchburg, and 9 p.m. Manchester vs. Peebles.