The Lynn Camp Lady Wildcats came up just short on the road when they traveled to Middlesboro and fell 57-52 to the Lady Yellow Jackets.
It was the first game under new head coach Rodney Clarke, and despite the loss, his team fared pretty well. Clarke has one of the youngest teams in the region, but was able to get contributions from several players on the night. With their youth and four games in their first week of the season, Clarke said it was important for his team to get out the jitters.
“A lot of tonight was just getting those jitters out and getting the right amount of confidence,” said Clarke. “This game was getting our feet wet. Even in the second half, you could tell that the girls were not used to being in these types of situations, especially as the game tightened up. We had some mental breakdowns because they just aren’t used to being out there.”
The Lady Wildcats were able to keep the game close throughout the first half, trailing 14-10 after the first quarter. Lynn Camp picked things up in the second quarter with six different players scoring, as they were able to cut the lead to 27-24 entering the half.
Overall, there were nine different players who found the scoring column for Lynn Camp on Monday, and 12 different girls who entered the game. Clarke said a strength of his team is his depth and they will use that to their advantage this season.
“We knew we had the bodies to play several players. I like our depth. It’s about finding the right combination to put on the floor, and we were working those kinks out tonight,” said Clarke. “I thought we competed hard tonight, and I am happy with that. That is something to build on.”
The third quarter was the deciding factor in the game. Middlesboro outscored the Lady Wildcats 18-10 in the quarter, behind two big three-point baskets that stopped Lynn Camp’s attempt at a run in the third. Clarke said the biggest difference to start the second half was the amount of turnovers. For the game, the Lady Wildcats finished with 21 turnovers, which is a recipe for a loss, especially playing on the road.
“Turnovers and defensive rebounding were really our Achilles heel all night. You can’t turn it over that much and expect to win the game,” said Clarke. “To be on the road and only lose by five, after having that many turnovers gives us something to work with. We still gave ourselves a chance to win, and we can clean some of those turnovers up.”
Lynn Camp made a push in the fourth quarter, but just could not dig themselves out of the hole. They outscored the Lady Yellow Jackets 16-13 and held them to just three field goals in the fourth. Down the stretch, Middlesboro was able to knock down their free throws to hold on to the 57-52 win.
Leading the way for the Lady Wildcats was junior Natalie Fanella who finished with 15 points on the night. Freshman Abby Mabe scored 10 points, while senior Latoya Lee finished with eight.
Clarke said his team will put this loss behind them and turn their focus to Williamsburg, when they travel to take on the Lady Yellow Jackets on Tuesday.
‘I told the girls that I hope this one stings because that means it matters to them, but we can’t dwell on this loss,” said Clarke. “We have something to build on from this game. We have to put it behind us and try to get better tomorrow night.”