Another Justice era begins with a victory –
Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
New head coach Billie Jo Justice took her Peebles Lady Indians to the court for the first time in regular season play on Saturday, Nov. 26 as they played host to the Felicity Lady Cardinals in a non-conference opener for both squads, and it was a successful debut for the home team and their head coach as the Lady Indians rode the hot hands of junior McKinlee Ryan and senior Jessica Sowards to a 57-36 victory.
The combo of Ryan and Sowards combined for 43 points and seven three-point goals as they were two of three Lady Indians in double figures, with Ryan scoring the game’s first seven points and the home team never looking back.
“Those two are definitely our leaders,” said coach Justice after the game. “Shooting wise they both have the knowledge to take the bole to the hole and that opens up the outside for them. They are our best rebounders at times so it is tough to pull them both out. If they are out around the perimeter a lot, then we need others to crash the boards.”
The outcome of Saturday’s game was never really in doubt, especially after Ryan gave the Lady Indians a 10-1, scoring her team’s first 10 points, including a pair of three-pointers from the top of the key. The first basket of the game by Sowards made it 12-1 and the Peebles girls were rolling. Later back to back treys by Sowards and Ryan made it 18-4, before the Lady Cards scored five straight to narrow the gap. A three-pointer by Matti Nichols left the home team in front 22-11 after one quarter of action.
The scoring pace slowed down considerably in the second period with Felicity going on a 7-2 run to pull within 26-18 with 3:07 left in the half. Ryan and Nichols both hit one of two free throw attempts and a low-scoring second stanza saw the two teams go to the halftime intermission with Peebles on top 28-18.
Out of the break, the Lady Indians got a bucket from Ryan and a Sowards three-pointer, then four free throws from Sowards, who is nearly automatic at the stripe, to increase their advantage up to 37-19. A later steal and layup by Nichols, another Ryan trey, and a jumper by Baylee Justice kept the Peebles girls on top comfortably and when Sowards banked in an acrobatic shot at the buzzer, the third quarter ended with the Lady Indians leading 50-28.
The final eight minutes of the game resembled the middle eight minutes, with little scoring and a much slower pace. A Nichols jumper and Ryan’s fourth three of the game made it 57-31, and thought the final five points of the game belonged to the Lady Cards, the final outcome was firmly in the control of the home team as Peebles opened their 2016-17 campaign on a positive note, winning by a final count of 57-36.
“I don’t think we played as well today as we had in our scrimmages,” said Coach Justice. “We probably had some first-game jitters but we just have to run our transition game better. We have to rebound and do all the little things and we can’t take plays off to beat good teams.”
“Everything we are doing right now we can keep working on. They really need to just watch the film and see their mistakes because sometimes me telling them over and over again doesn’t sink in. They are learning and I have high expectations for them.”
Ryan topped all scores with 22 points, with Sowards close behind with 21, including a perfect 8 for 8 from the foul line. Nichols joined her two teammates in double figures with 10. Felicity was paced by 12 points from Morgan Horn and 10 from Kylie Sponcil.
In the JV contest, the Lady Indians were also victorious, romping to a 45-18 win behind 16 points from Hope Brown and 8 from Christian Reed.
The Lady Indians were back in action with a rare Tuesday night girls contest as they traveled to Portsmouth West for a non-conference tilt and will be on the road again on Thursday, Dec. 1 as they play their Southern Hills Athletic Conference opener at Manchester. A busy week concluded on Saturday, Dec. 3 when the Lady Indians host Adena.
Felicity 11 7 10 8 –36
Peebles 22 6 22 7 –57
Felicity (36): Johns 0 1-2 1, Horn 5 1-3 12, Baird 0 1-2 1, Carrington 1 0-0 2, Young 1 0-0 2, Sponcil 3 3-6 10, Bradburn 2 2-2 6, Stamper 0 2-2 2, Team 12 10-17 36.
Peebles (57): Sowards 5 8-8 21, Ryan 6 6-7 22, Justice 1 0-0 2, Nichols 4 1-4 10, Toller 1 0-0 2, Team 17 15-19 57.
Felicity (2): Horn 1, Sponcil 1
Peebles (7): Sowards 3, Ryan 4
JV Score: Peebles 45 Felicity 18