Dateline, LaGrange, Ga.: The Varsity Cougars completed a historic trek down I-85 to face the Warriors of LaGrange Academy for the first time. The Lady Warriors boast a 40 year hoops tradition and two state GISA titles to their credit. Upon arriving at the LaGrange gymnasium the visiting Lady Cougars showed little signs of “jet lag” from their nearly two hour bus ride as they clicked on all cylinders defensively. Denied good looks at the hoop, the home town Warriors endured a nearly four minute scoring drought before lighting up the scoreboard. Unfortunately, Cottage experienced similar offensive woes resulting in a 6 – 0 LaGrange advantage after the close of the preliminary period of play.
From the start of the second quarter, the Lady Warriors shook things up by instituting a full court press and unleashing some sharpshooting players from their bench. A flurry of early turnovers, coupled with timely outside jump shots allowed LaGrange to pile up 16 points over the eight minute span. Cottage showed signs of life offensively, but found it difficult to connect on their shots. Fortunately, center Shakeriah Wazeerud-Din banked home a baby hook, and sixth man Alex Nebel scored on the strength of an offensive rebound to get TCS on the board before the half.
After the half, the depth of the LaGrange bench began to show, as continuous substitutions allowed for fresh legs that accelerated their rebounding edge, while also forcing the tempo on offense. While the visitors continued to launch reasonable shots, they simply could not get many to fall. Over the second half, the free throw line turned into Cottage’s best advantage as Brandy Michelle nailed 3 of 4 to pace her team in scoring for the half. In the end, LaGrange came away with a 47 – 11 victory.
Next week the Lady Cougars conclude their mini-road trip with a game against Furtah Prep, before returning home to conclude the I-85 series against LaGrange.
Sixth man Alex Nebel performed as the “super sub” for the evening as her 4 points led all of her teammates in the scoring column. Nebel also claimed 2 steals, and snaked her way to the rim to gather 3 rebounds (including 2 from the offensive end).
Bethany Lingle and Julia Baumohl both spelled the frontcourt. Baumohl drew the unenviable assignment of inbounding the ball against the initial full court press. Later in the game, she shifted gears and took over a guard spot to close out the game. Lingle’s alert hands netted a steal, while also crashing the boards for 3 rebounds. Although she did not ring up any assists, Lingle demonstrated superior court awareness by distributing the ball from the high post.
Marissa Edwards hauled in a strong offensive rebound on Cottage’s first possession of the game, and also came away with 2 steals. Edwards helped tremendously with transition defense while also harassing LaGrange guards from the standard zone set.
Natalie Yager enjoyed a productive statistics line for the evening. Although she did not connect on her jump shots, Yager forced the issue on the boards, banging her way to 4 (including 1 offensive). She also threaded the needle to record 2 assists, grabbed a steal, gained 2 deflections, tossed back a shot with an improbable block, and went to the hardwoods numerous times.
SHarkirah Wazeerud-Din came away with 9 rebounds for the evening (3 offensive), scored 2 points, and turned back 2 LaGrange field goals with blocks worthy of an NBA highlight film.
Maria Knezek drew the tough assignment of chasing hard charging and sharp shoting perimeter players all evening long. Knezek assisted Wazeerud-Din on her score, scored 2 points on a pretty jump shot, grabbed 3 rebounds (1 offensive), and also gained her customary steals for the game with 2.
Brandy Michelle Finnell unofficially led the game with rebounds, tallying a balanced 14 (7 boards on each end of the court). During the second half, her activity in the low post drew a number of fouls, allowing her to get to the foul line, which accounted for her 3 points.