Rains gets past Alba-Golden girls

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Chapter One in the book, How to Build a Basketball Program, is titled Play Defense. For three quarters last Friday, the Alba-Golden Lady Panthers did just that. At the start of the final quarter the Lady Panthers were close on the heels of the visiting Rains Lady Cats and had been pacing the Lady Cats all night.

Early in that final quarter, Lady Panther Hannah Wright was fouled on a strong move to the basket. She hit one of two free throws to draw the Lady Panthers to within four points, 37-33. It appeared as though the home side was gearing up for a defining district win. 

Throughout the game, Alba-Golden had used their defense to first deny and then reattack. In the closing quarter, a growing desperation on the offensive side of the ball caused open gaps in their defense.

Rains exploited those gaps and made a 7-0 run. The margin opened to 44-33. Frantic sequences, which played to the Lady Cats strengths, ensued in the remainder of the fourth quarter. Rains recorded the win, 51-41.

The game had been close. It was tied at 6 and again at 12, and was a 3-point difference at the half.  Late in the third quarter, Lady Panther Jordin Barnhart hit a 3-pointer from the baseline off of an inbound play to tie the game at 29.

Alba-Golden played some strong 2-3 zone and specialized in cutting off the Rains passing lanes. The Lady Panthers also hit the boards hard with Hannah Wright and Crimson Bryant pulling down seven rebounds apiece. Cacie Lennon chased down six boards. 

As the pressure mounted in the fourth quarter, the Lady Panthers began to overthink their offensive play. Forcing the ball inside and passing up open driving lanes resulted in consecutive turnovers. Rains pounced on them and scored repeatedly on fast breaks to secure the win. 

The game should provide a boost to the young team’s self-confidence. The Lady Panthers will realize just how close they were to securing that defining win. 

Certainly there will be much to learn from. In addition to the psychological aspects of competing down the stretch, the Lady Panthers will be working hard to improve their ability to finish at the basket.

Barnhart, who contributed 11 points off the bench, joined in scoring double figures by Bella Crawford, who scored 12 points.  

Alba-Golden visits Mineola on Tuesday, Jan. 7 in their next district match-up.

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