While individual players’ point tallies haven’t reached double digits too often in the young season, balanced scoring throughout her lineup has been the norm.
That proved to be the case once again Friday night at home against Cedar Bluff.
Nine of the Lady Wildcats’ 11 players scored at least one bucket, and Sand Rock’s smothering defensive effort took care of the rest in a 53-39 victory.
“We just played team ball,” Bates said. “The girls showed up with fire, and that was the difference. We trapped well. We anticipated well. We just got into the flow of the game. I was able to sub in and keep people fresh. I was proud of how hard they all played together.”
Leslie Mackey led the Lady Wildcats (3-2) with nine points and four rebounds. In limited action, Courtney Rowe added eight points, five rebounds and five steals. Shelley Sonaty also contributed eight points.
Ashley Norris came away with seven points and five steals. Emily Langley finished with six points, four steals and eight assists.
Things were tight the majority of the first half. Cedar Bluff (4-3) built a 14-11 advantage at the end of the first quarter, but Sand Rock turned up its defensive pressure and managed to go on a 14-4 run and hold a 25-18 lead at halftime.
Sand Rock continued its half-court pressure in the second half, resulting in a 46-23 Lady Wildcat advantage.
“We didn’t handle the pressure well,” Cedar Bluff coach Joe Carpenter said. “They hustled all over the court. We turned the ball over and didn’t box out. They just out-played us and out-coached us. It’s a tribute to them. They did an outstanding job.”
Audrianna Hargitt led the Lady Tigers with 14 points, 12 rebounds and four steals. Marigrace Wilson added eight points and Hannah Leach finished with seven points.
“I know they wanted to get it down inside, but that was our deal, to try and not let them get it into Hargitt,” Bates said. “She’s a tremendous ball player. I know (Katie) McGinnis got into foul trouble, and that hurt them too because she’s a good ball player. That was a big factor as well. We’re getting better and better on defense.”
Sand Rock’s next game is Dec. 4 against Class 2A, Area 11 rival Westbrook Christian. Cedar Bluff is also in action Dec. 4 at Class 1A, Area 10 foe Collinsville.