It took a little while before the Trinity Lutheran girls basketball team was able to utilize its superior height Saturday night against Crothersville.
For a half, the Tigers’ game plan of clogging the middle and forcing the Cougar shooters to knock down shots was working as well as they could have hoped and was keeping the game close.
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Yet once the Cougars started draining their jumpers, it forced the Tigers to play more honest defense, and Trinity was able to exploit the middle for easy buckets en route to a 54-30 win over their county rival.
“We’ve got good shooters, and what happened in the first half is we had to work on our offense a little bit more, and we had too many one-pass shots,” Trinity Lutheran coach Mike Lang explained. “Once we started getting our rotations and moving (the ball), it opened up the inside for us.”
The Cougars outrebounded Crothersville 34-21.
Crothersville’s slow tempo in the first quarter also helped keep things tight early on and gave the Tigers a one-point advantage after eight minutes.
The Cougars didn’t score their first bucket until the 1:40 mark of the opening stanza.
Lang credited Crothersville for being able to slow down the game and frustrate his players but also admitted his team started out playing poorly.
Tigers coach Kevin Hensley was happy to see his girls stick to the game plan early on, but once the second quarter started, he said his girls forgot to keep executing their game and played into the hands of Trinity Lutheran.
“One of the things we’ve been working on is keeping our consistency all the way across,” Hensley said. “If we do, then the ballgame stays close, but we always seem to have those little lapses of memory loss.”
Quick missed shots resulted in easy runouts at the other end for Trinity, and the Tigers’ lead quickly evaporated.
The Cougars went on a 10-2 run over the next five minutes of the game, and their lead blossomed to 10 at the halftime break.
Cougar junior Sydney Jaynes went to work in the second half to secure the game for Trinity, finishing with 22 points and eight boards.
However, that total could have been lower if not for sharpshooter Kailene Cockerham, who knocked two 3-pointers to force the Tigers to defend her and from doubling Jaynes.
Lang said he knows Cockerham can shoot the ball, she just needs to be willing to fire away instead of holding the ball too long.
“She’s a good shooter, and (her shots) were huge,” Lang said. “She’s just got to have the confidence to go up there and shoot it and not think about it.”
She finished with 10 points.
Even with the loss, the Tigers feel like they can hang around with the Cougars should they get a chance to play them again.
Hensley knows once his players settle into their new roles, they’ll be a much better basketball team come tournament time.
“We lost two seniors that these girls all looked to first,” he explained. “They’re all learning new roles this year, and that’s a big part of it.”
In addition to Jaynes’ 22 and Cockerham’s 10, the Cougars were paced by Bailey Tabeling’s 10 and Hannah Sabotin’s six. Sabotin also had a team-high 11 boards.
Emma Goecker, Emma Schepman and Katelyn Schepman rounded out the Trinity scoring with two points each.
Makayla Helt led the Tigers with 14 points and was 7-for-8 from the free throw line.
Addy Cole added six points, and Grace Wilson chipped in five. Kennadi Lakins and Rebekah Cook rounded out the Crothersville scoring with three and two points, respectively.
Makinzee Isley was the Tigers’ top rebounder with seven.
Trinity Lutheran will travel to Southwestern (Shelby) on Saturday for a 1:30 p.m. tipoff, while Crothersville is off until Dec. 2 when they travel to Cannelton for an 8 p.m. varsity start.