On Saturday afternoon, January 8, the Lady Braves took on the Chamberlain Cubs in the friendly confines of the C-EB gymnasium. The contest, however, proved to be extremely daunting for the girls on both sides. The original schedule called for a doubleheader but due to health concerns and precautions, the boys’ games were cancelled. Only the girls suited up and even then, only essential personnel were allowed into the gymnasium for safety reasons. The total number of souls inside the gym was about 70 and a good 25 of them were from Chamberlain; coaches, players and support personnel.
Even though health reasons were not a factor for the C-EB squad, they were nevertheless shorthanded due to several of their varsity starters being out because of schedule conflicts. Several junior varsity players were pulled up to help fill the void; thus both the JV and varsity teams were immediately undermanned going up against the Cubs who were at full strength.
It didn’t take long for the Cubs to exploit the Braves’ predicament. Cubs’ sophomore guard Number 22, Jayna Handel, boomed in a 3-pointer as soon as the Cubs secured the tipoff, and then the Cubs stole the ball on the next three possessions and scored before the Braves could even get the ball on their side of the court. The Braves struggled to find their rhythm and did not score a point until the 3:45 mark of the first quarter. By then the Cubs already had a commanding lead – 2 to 19. Plus, the Cubs kept up their full court press and smothering defense throughout this first period and when it ended the Cubs pushed their lead out by 22 points – 2 to 24.
The Braves showed some life at the beginning of the second quarter when Shawnee Lawrence scored a tough bucket underneath and Mariah Buffalo-Halfred swished in a 3-pointer. But then the Cubs flexed their dominance once more; they rolled up another 18 points before Shawnee found the rim again. The Cubs’ trapping defense was just too much for the younger Braves, and when the first half expired the score was 12 to 44.
Due to the 32-point lead, the Mercy Rule was in effect when play resumed following the intermission. The rule states, “When the point differential reaches 30 or more points in the second half, the clock will continue to run. The clock will only be stopped for free throws and time outs.” The Braves were still trying though, but they could not match up well enough against their visitors. The Cubs added another 21 points to their overall score; the Braves could only muster 3 points. The Braves were further behind when the quarter concluded– 15 to 65.
Both coaches let more and more younger players in to finish off the contest. The game finally ended with complete domination by the Cubs – 18 to 78.
Coach Allen Benoist knew that his team was at disadvantage going into the match due to four of his starters being out, but he also knew that the game would be a good learning experience for those who dressed out. Younger players can only hone their skills through competing at the varsity level. Coach Benoist said, with a great deal of confidence, that since Chamberlain is in their region it will be a very different game when the teams meet again.
Coach Benoist advised that, due to continual health concerns and precautions, all practices and games are suspended for this week. The Braves are scheduled to start practice back up on Sunday, December 16. Games resume on December 18 with a doubleheader against Todd County. Only the varsity will play, with the girls’ game starting at 4:30 Mountain Time.
In the JV game, only seven players dressed out as compared to the Cubs who had 14 players in uniform. The strain of being shorthanded hurt and it showed in the final score – Braves 8 and Cubs 44.
Player of the Game for the Lady Braves must go to Shawnee Lawrence for playing her heart out. She hustled all over the court, blocked several shots, and led the way of both offense and defense.