Lady Cats' offense drags in opening loss to Mount Vernon

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Nov. 7, 2007 - MOUNT VERNON - Sulphur Springs girls basketball coach Tina Carrillo knew the Lady Cats would face some challenges in their difficult non-district schedule. Challenge No. 1 came Tuesday night.

The Lady Cats weren't able to solve Mount Vernon's pressure defense, falling in the season opener 54-30.

SSHS shot just 23 percent from the field and didn't have a player score in double figures.

Junior guard Mackenzie Cross led the team in scoring with nine points, including 5-of-6 from the free throw line, while sophomore guard Stefanie Pruitt and junior forward Delandria Lewis added eight points each, and senior forward Stephanie Conley contributed five points and a team-high 11 rebounds.

Mount Vernon got a game-high 15 points, seven steals and four assists from senior Aly Sherman, who is scheduled to sign a week from Friday with the University of Central Arkansas. Guard Whitney Hargraves added 14 points for the Lady Tigers.

Mount Vernon took a 7-0 lead before the Lady Cats scored their first bucket, a short jumper by Conley off a Pruitt assist, with 5:30 left to play in the opening period.

"We're still not comfortable on the offensive side," said Carrillo. "Our guards aren't used to the pressure that Mount Vernon turned up on us last night. We haven't adjusted very well to pressure situations in the scrimmages and we didn't again last night."

The Lady Cats were forced into 28 turnovers which was compounded by their cold shooting night.

The Lady Cats entered the second period in a 16-6 deficit, but were able to get to within five points, 19-14, 90 seconds in after Cross nailed a pair of free throws. The Lady Cats made 11-of-15 charity shots in the game, with all but three of the makes coming in the first half.

"I think in the first half we stayed with them because we were making our free throws," Carrillo said. "We didn't get many points generated from the inside. When you're experienced players aren't scoring, we've got to find a way to get them going, but we weren't able to get that first pass to initiate our offense."

Mount Vernon's Cristy Whitlock ended the second period by making six straight points to push the Lady Tigers' lead out to 28-16. Whitlock and her twin sister Kelsey combined to score 15 points and dish out five assists.

By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, Mount Vernon had built its lead to 21 points (43-22), and despite a 3-pointer from Pruitt and a pair of buckets by Cross off a steal and pull-up jumper, the Lady Cats were never able to get the deficit below 20 points.

Sulphur Springs senior Jessica Savage led the Lady Cats in steals with four, while Cross and Conley had two take-aways each.

Sulphur Springs will play its home opener at 11 a.m. Saturday against Crandall in the SSHS auxiliary gym. The main gym is nearing completion of the renovation process and should be ready for competition sometime next week.

Junior Varsity

SSHS 42, Mount Vernon 20

The SSHS JV opened the season with a victory, taking an early lead and trailing just once in the game. Talea Reynolds led the team in scoring with 21 points, eight rebounds and five steals.

Ashanti Ivery scored seven points and had three assists, Jamie Askins added four points and five steals, and Melanie Hudson scored three points.

Scoring two points each were Jamonica Hall (five steals, four assists), Justine Hatley and Miranda Escobar. Alyssa Burney added one point, three steals and three assists.

Freshmen

Mount Vernon 57, SSHS 34

The SSHS ninth-graders fell behind 13-0 to start the game, then climbed back into by the third quarter.

Caitlyn Nix led the team with 10 points and 10 rebounds, while Frankeisha Hawkins and Bradyn Burney each scored six points and grabbed four rebounds. Tyesha Thomas added five points and five steals. Also scoring were Taylor Eastwood with four points and Cydnie Finnie with three.

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