PORTSMOUTH – It was a tough night for the Clay Lady Panthers. Coming off a loss on the road against Valley, Scott Cayton’s Lady Panthers next game was against SOC powerhouse, and undefeated South Webster Lady Jeeps.
The Lady Jeeps jumped out to a quick lead Wednesday night at Clay High School, and refused to let go of the lead.
Scoring 19 points in the first quarter, Kristie Johnson’s Lady Jeeps put a strangle hold on the Lady Panthers. Clay was only able to put seven points on the scoreboard in that quarter, four points from Jensen Warnock, and three from Cam Delotell.
The game would continue in that manner, until the final buzzer, when South Webster defeated Clay, 52-30.
Clay’s extremely young team couldn’t hold the explosive South Webster offense, as South Webster’s lead continued to grow as the game went on.
Despite the blowout, the Lady Panthers didn’t give up on the game. They continued to fight, and attacked the basket. Freshman guard Warnock led the Lady Panthers in scoring. She was the only Lady Panther to break double figures, scoring 10 points Wednesday night.
Fellow Clay freshman Sophia Balestra, a forward, added six points to the Clay cause.
South Webster had seven players score Wednesday night at Clay High School. Kacie Hall scored a team high 16 points, all from the field.
Cheyenne Weakley also reached double figures for the Lady Jeeps, finishing the night with 10 points. Weakley hit two three-pointers, and landed both of her free throw attempts.
There was a scary moment in the game, when South Webster’s Alley Wilson was inured in the third quarter. She was seen by a trainer, and would later return to the game.
Johnson was happy with her team’s performance against Clay, and the way they responded to Clay’s zone play.
“It gave us some time to work on some things,” Johnson said. “We needed to work on zone offense a little bit, so it definitely gave us that opportunity to do that.”
Clay played zone throughout the entirety of the contest.
“That allowed us to work on some things we’ve been needing to,” Johnson said. “In the rest of the SOC, people don’t really play zone a lot, so it’s definitely something we want to be prepared for, come tournament time.”
The Lady Jeeps have a long stretch of extremely talented teams to face in the near future.
“We have Minford and Burg, then Waverly and Spring Valley, and then East Carter, Kentucky,” Johnson said. “That’s our next five games. They’re all good, solid teams, so there’s been a few things we’ve really been trying to focus on defensively and offensively.”
Just as the Lady Panthers refused to give up the game, the Lady Jeeps continued to play like a team that was in a fight for the lead, never lessening up, despite having a lead that often times was on the north side of 20 points.
“If you’ve ever seen the back of our team shirts, it says, ‘hard work is not a suggestion, it’s an expectation,’” Johnson said. “That’s something our program truly believes. You get beat when you don’t work hard, by teams that shouldn’t beat you. It’s just something, every loose ball, every rebound, that’s important, and when you’re playing the game of basketball, it becomes really important.”
The Clay Panthers will hit the road and travel north on US 23 to take on Waverly Monday, January 4th. Tipoff for the game is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Johnson’s Lady Jeeps will host the Minford Lady Falcons Thursday evening. The tip is set for 7:30 p.m.
Clay – Warnock 4-2-10, Balestra 3-0-6, Brown 1-0-3, Osborn 1-1-3, Delotell 1-0-3, Artis 1-0-3, Craig 1-0-2
South Webster – Hall 7-0-16, Weakley 3-2-10, Stamper 3-1-9, E. Johnson 2-2-7, K. Johnson 3-1-7, Smith 1-0-2, Wilson 0-1-1
3-point field goals – Clay 3 (Brown Delotell, Artis) South Webster 7 (Hall 2, Stamper 2, Weakley 2, E. Johnson)
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext 1931, or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82.