After losing to Louisville Christian by 14 points in a scrimmage, Rockcastle County coach Christi Noble dared her team to play that bad in the season opener against Corbin Monday night.
“We ran for about an hour in practice Sunday and that was a pretty good incentive,” Noble said after her 4th ranked Lady Rockets responded with a 70-41 win over the Lady Redhounds.
Along with a handful of college coaches, two of the region’s finest, Johnna Abner and Heather Hammond dominated play in the opening quarter as Rockcastle shot out to a 23-9 lead.
The game was tied at 2-2 before the Lady Rockets began to pull away with a 7-0 run. Back to back three points by Tara Rowe and Abney saw Rockcastle County take a 12-3 lead in the game.
A three point play by junior Katie Akins off a steal pulled Corbin within seven (12-5) at the half-way mark but a 11-4 run saw the defending regional champions take a 23-9 lead at the first stop.
“Rock deserves that fourth ranked team in the state right now,” said Corbin coach Jennifer Parsons. “They played an excellent game.”
“However, we had 30 turnovers to end our game with and I think maybe 12 of those 30 they may have forced us into having. We created a lot of turnovers and bad shots on our own doing.”
“I don’t think they forced all of those, which is a positive thing for us,” said Parsons. “We know we can play with that team. We played with them for about three quarters. They blew the lead up at the end of the third quarter. I thought we played with them by holding the lead to 12-15 points without playing our best game.”
The Lady Rockets (1-0) took a 29-13 lead in the second quarter before Corbin’s Heather Clouse and Morgan Barley got back to back baskets, slicing the lead to 12 (29-17).
Both teams would post 12 points in the quarter and went to the half with Rockcastle leading 35-21.
Rockcastle started out the third quarter with the first six points and stretched the lead to twenty (41-21) but Corbin answered with a 7-0 run as Barley hit a pair of free throws, Clouse nailed a three pointer then scored from close range to cut the Lady Rockets lead to 13 points, 41-28.
However Corbin lost its momentum in the final minute as Rockcastle went on a 8-1 run and led 51-29 at the end of three.
“We didn’t hit the easy open shots that we hit in the two scrimmages,” said Parsons. “It’s the first game of the season, you play the toughest team in the region and one of the toughest teams in the state. That’s what we wanted and we can see what we need to do and to work on to meet them again in the region. And that’s our goal.”
“I think we were a little jittery to say the least,” added Parsons. “Nobody was wanting to take the initiative to score at the beginning of the game. We still don’t have Jamie Bonza in the starting lineup and she was that person for us.”
“Our chemistry is not were I would like for it to be at this point,” said Parsons. “We got the tip and were hesitant, nobody wanted to do anything when we got it on our end. And that may be from not having that leader with the ball in their hand but that’s something to learn from.”
“I don’t think the scoreboard indicated how good Corbin played,” said Noble. “We got off to a good start and it seemed like Corbin got a little bit tired. We both missed a lot of easy opportunities to score.”
“I had hoped we would get after the ball,” said Noble of her team’s hustle on the floor. “We didn’t play well in Saturday’s scrimmage and I think they were trying to make up for it.”
Corbin will hit the road Friday night to take on the Lady Maroons of Pulaski County before going to Bell County Tuesday night.
Rockcastle Co. 23 12 16 19- 70
Corbin 9 12 8 12- 41
Rockcastle Co. (70) – Abney 12, T. Rowe 11, Hammond 25, T. Parson 2, Lunsford 7, S. Parsons 5, Cash 2, Asher 2. S. Rowe 4.
Corbin (41) – Rogers 7, Clouse 8, Jackson 8, Barley 10 Akins 6, Gambrel 2.