Lady Bombers looking for improvement
Improvement is the key word that Ballard Memorial Coach Kayla Vance keeps telling her young Lady Bomber squad. That is evident in the early season results that have the Lady Bombers 0-4 after the first couple of weeks of action. The weather is playing havoc with the learning curve for the team. Ballard Memorial has been out of school since December 6th and the Lady Bombers have not had a chance to practice since December 4th. In the meantime, they played three tough games in the City of Metropolis Tournament on the 10th against Massac County, the 11th against Murray, and the 12th against Carbondale.
In the opening game of the tournament, the Lady Bombers hung tough with the host Lady Patriots. After falling behind by five after the opening eight minutes, the Lady Bombers saw their press cause some problems for Massac. The Lady Bombers rallied to trail by one at the break by a score of 25-24. The team has to find a way to come out in the second half and be more competitive as the Lady Patriots dominated the second half, outscoring the Lady Bombers 20-6 in the third quarter. The host team turned a one point halftime intermission into a 28 point blowout at the end as they cruised to a convincing 68-40 victory.
On Wednesday night, the Lady Bombers had to face Kentucky’s First Region All A favorite Murray High Lady Tigers. Murray jumped out and took command early as they led 12-2 before senior Abbi Denton sank a three pointer to cut the lead to seven. The Lady Bombers were outplayed in the second quarter and the Lady Tigers continually beat Ballard Memorial back down the floor for some easy buckets. The easy transition buckets and second chance shots from their four different inside post players that are all taller than six foot tall, allowed Murray to take a commanding 41-23 lead into the intermission. The Lady Bombers came out and tried to cut into that deficit as Denton made nice feed into Hailey Houston for an easy bucket to trim the lead to 43-28, but that would be as close as the Lady Bombers would get. Murray closed the quarter with a 14-5 run and led 57-33 heading into the final eight minutes. With both teams playing some of their substitute players, the low scoring quarter saw both teams score nine points each leaving the Lady Tigers on top of the 66-42 final score.
The finale of the tournament saw the Lady Bombers compete against the Lady Terriers of Carbondale. A similar theme played out for the Lady Bombers as they hung tough in the first half. A three point shot from eighth grader Leah Shelley just before the end of the first quarter allowed the Lady Bombers to claim the 16-14 lead. The lead started to slip away late in the half for the Lady Bombers, and they trailed by five when Shelley stepped up and connected on second trey of the night to get the lead back to two. The Lady Terriers tacked on another bucket just before the intermission to leave the Lady Bombers down 35-31 at the break. The second half was disastrous for the Lady Bombers as they were turned the ball over numerous times and had no answer against the Lady Terriers, Carbondale scored the last 11 points of the quarter to turn the back and forth game into another blowout as they led by 23 heading into the final quarter. Despite Shelley’s 20 point performance, the Lady Bombers fell to the Lady Terriers 73-47.
Abbi Denton was selected to the All Tournament Team as she scored 37 points during the tournament including a 21 points performance against Murray. Shelley led the team in scoring during the tournament as she finished with 47 points over the three game span. Houston added 28 points for the tournament, while Kenzie Blackford added nine, Shelby Rollings had seven, and Kayto Buchanan had two points. The Lady Bombers finished the tournament hitting on 37-of-108 from the field for 34.2% field goal percentage and hit on 10-of-35 from behind the arc. From the charity stripe, the Lady Bombers only made 43 attempts for the tournament and they hit on 25 of those for a 58.1%
Blocking out, transition defense, and being able to push the ball down the floor on the offensive end are areas that Vance would like to see the team get better at. Facing the tough competition they have played early in the season will help the girls get better, as long as they do not let losing get them down mentally. “It’s building blocks for us,” said Coach Vance adding, “They know we are playing tough teams right now and we are going to take our lumps and we are going to be alright though.”
The road does not get any easier for the Lady Bombers, and they have little time to practice to make any adjustments. The Lady Bombers start district play on Monday, December 16th against Graves County before traveling to Livingston County on Tuesday, and McCracken County on Thursday. After an overnight rest, the Lady Bombers then head to Lyon County for a two day, three game tournament at the Ace Hardware Christmas Basketball Tournament. The Lady Bombers are scheduled to play Todd County Central on Friday night at 6:00 and turn around and play McLean County on Saturday morning at 11:30 and host Lyon County at 6:30. “Practice is what we need to get us ready. I just want to see improvement and I want us to get better every game and every practice,” said Vance. She added, “We are going to move on and the rest of the season is going to be good.”