ROSEMOUNT — The Clay Lady Panthers’ defensive intensity in the final two quarters of Monday’s Southern Ohio Conference Division I game versus Western helped force 19 Lady Indian second-half turnovers.
“In the second half, they really stepped up,” Panthers coach Scott Artis said. “They’re still learning to play together, learning the leadership roles. I think in the second half they came out to play and came out to win. They stepped it up on the defensive end — they pressured and got the turnovers we needed. Just couldn’t hit the open shots when we needed.”
In that stretch of the game’s final 16 minutes, Clay (0-5) outscored Western (2-2) 23-18 — after trailing by a 20-point margin at halftime.
However, it was the second quarter when the visiting Lady Indians made their move — outscoring the Lady Panthers 22-8 after leading by six following the game’s opening frame to help staple a 54-39 road win.
Western made 15 of its 19 field goals in the first half of play, including six by Kenzi Ferneau, who had a game-high 18 points.
Ferneau knocked down three of the Lady Indians’ four three-point makes, each coming in the first half.
Clay held Ferneau field goal-less in the second half after making its halftime adjustments, which included extending its defensive pressure the length of the court.
For the game, Clay forced 27 Western turnovers while committing 23 of its own.
The Lady Indians outrebounded their hosts 32-27.
Lady Panthers senior Katherine Cochran sank two three-point attempts during the fourth quarter as part of her team’s five long-range makes.
Junior Kyleigh Oliver scored eight points off the bench, including six of Clay’s eight second-quarter points.
Senior Shaley Munion added eight — making one shot and finishing 6-of-10 from the free-throw line.
“I always think games look different when a couple of shots fall,” Artis said. “It was a bad shooting night for us. If some of those fall, even some layups that just rolled off the rim, a couple free throws, I think it changes a lot. And our first-half intensity wasn’t the same. If we step up the intensity, hit a couple of shots, we’re right there in the second half to challenge to win this game.”
Despite a disappointing start to the season, the Lady Panthers remain focused on installing their gameplan and working to improve day by day.
In their run-up to last season’s Division IV sectional tournament, Clay was winners of six-of-seven in SOC I play.
Artis says he’s looking for a similar turn-around for his group this year — possibly sooner rather than later.
“We’re still putting in a lot of our plays, schemes on the defensive end — stuff that we’d like to try and do,” Artis said. “We’re still working on our presses, stuff that we didn’t have a lot of time to work on. I keep telling them, if we look at last season and where we were to now it’s about the same place. I’m just wanting to turn it around quicker than we did last year.”
Clay will travel to Symmes Valley on Thursday (Dec. 10), seeking its first win of the season.
Western 14 22 8 10 — 54
Clay 8 8 12 11 — 39
WESTERN 54 (2-2)
Alicia Francis 5 3-4 14, Sakayla Beckett 0 0-0 0, Brooklyn Tackett 5 5-8 15, Taylor Grooms 1 0-2 2, Alyssa Marhoover 2 1-1 5, Kenzi Ferneau 6 3-6 18; TOTALS 19 12-21 54; Three-point field goals: 4 (Kenzi Ferneau 3, Alicia Francis 1)
CLAY 39 (0-5)
Shaley Munion 1 6-8 8, McKenzie Loper 2 0-0 5, Sophia Gatti 2 1-4 6, Katherine Cochran 2 0-0 6, Megan Bazler 1 0-0 2, Tabby Whitt 1 2-2 4, Kyleigh Oliver 3 1-3 8; TOTALS 12 10-19 39; Three-point field goals: 5 (Katherine Cochran 2, Kyleigh Oliver, Sophia Gatti and McKenzie Loper 1 apiece)
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved