Lady Cats fall in season opener
Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer

Nov. 10, 2004 - The basketball season is in full swing for the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats, but Tuesday night's contest against the Cooper Dogettes was not the result they were looking for in their 2004-05 home opener.

Down by 14 points at the half, SSHS got to within seven after the third quarter only to drop their first game of the season 57-44, while being outscored 19-13 in the final stanza.

"Maybe we just ran out of gas late in the game because we are not in conditioning form yet, and we know we are not where we need to be," SSHS head coach Carin Hoffman said. "The heart is what I am most proud of with this team because knowing that there is not a go-to person and trying to find out who is going to fill that role, they all have to start stepping it up individually. We don't know who we can go with and depend on during the game."

Sulphur Springs returns to the basketball court Nov. 16 with a game on the road against Royse City. Freshman action will begin at 4:30 p.m. The freshmen teams will play in Caddo Mills at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Hoffman said the 2004 roster has only one player from last year's squad on the team in senior point guard Terra Jackson, who finished the game with 10 points, four assists, and six steals.

"I pulled last year's roster while making up the roster today and I had deleted everybody from that roster except for Terra," the coach said. "So, everybody is new to the varsity roster except for Terra this year."

Cooper started the game out on a hot streak taking an early 20-9 lead in the first quarter on nine-of-11 shooting from the field.

"When the game first started out, they got a big jump on us and I felt like maybe their heads started to go down a little bit so I called them over and I told them on the court that we don't know who can do what just yet," Hoffman said. "We are young and don't have a go-to person just yet, and I told them to don't get your hopes up because I would not give up on them so they don't need to give up on me."

Even with Keli Byrd and Jalessia Larry going a combined eight-for-nine from the field in the first quarter for the Dogettes, the duo went 0-5 from the free throw line in the frame.

The Lady Cats continued to fight back in the second quarter with strong play from Minta Mannon with a three-pointer to get them to within 11 points at 32-21 before the half.

The one daunting stat for the Lady Cats was with their 20 turnovers at the end of the first half, and Hoffman said she believed that the turnover ratio will lower as the team gets more conditioned and makes better decisions as the season progresses.

"It will probably take a few more losses for this team to start getting into the groove of things, but this team is coachable and that is a positive and a plus for them to get them in the right direction. They are doing exactly what I am asking them to do," the coach said.

Cooper went ice cold in the third quarter going 0-of-14 from the field, while Sulphur Springs outscored them 10-3 in the frame for a 38-31 deficit.

The Lady Cats were led by Jackson, Mannon, and Ne-Ne Hynson in the quarter for their scoring as Hynson had game high honors with 17 points, one rebound, two steals, and one assist, while Mannon contributed nine points and three rebounds in the contest.

"Scoring-wise Ne-Ne had a great game with 17 points and she got seven of them from the free-throw line, and Terra had 10 while Minta added nine for us," Hoffman said. "If we can continue to get five or six points a game from them at the line, we should be fine this season."

Sulphur Springs got to within three midway through the fourth quarter at 43-40 on a steal and layup from Jackson, before Cooper went on a 10-0 run behind Liz Preas and a fastbreak layup from Larry.

Cooper ended out the game with a 14-4 run to put the game out of reach and give them their first win of the year.

Bridgette Nash added four points and six rebounds off the bench, while starting center Cresha Hubbard contributed two points, two rebounds and one assist in the loss.

Hoffman said she expects to see improvement from her interior players throughout this season in Hubbard, Nash, Kayla Morgan and Whitney Jordan.

"I like that we fought back and we got all of our scoring from our guards. We got four good post players in Hubbard, Nash, Morgan and Jordan that can help us and we are going to see some good things for them."

Byrd had a team high 15 points, four rebounds and three steals, while teammate Larry contributed 10 points, two boards, two assists and two steals for the Dogettes.

Preas also scored in double figures for Cooper with 13 points, five rebounds, four steals and one assist,m and Christen Nichols added nine points, four steals and two assists in the win.

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