Bench sparks Lady Zs past Argos in Jennings Bowl
Edmonds gets double-double, but Argos stays winless
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
ARGOS – Rochester senior guard Mercedes Brown laughed when she took a look at the Argos girls basketball team’s coach Thursday.
She knew that Argos coach Scott Jennings was Rochester coach Brian Jennings’ older brother, but she found the physical resemblance to be uncanny.
“We chatted a little bit and said that they had the same coaching style, and we would laugh about it, and then we were here, and we noticed that they looked the same,” Brown laughed. “Which is kind of creepy. But he really didn’t say much about it. … I was excited for him. I don’t know if Jennings was excited to play his brother, but I was.”
But once the game started, it ceased being about the coaches and started being about the players.
Specifically, it became about Brown and the rest of the Lady Zs’ bench.
RHS utilized a 26-4 advantage in bench points and hung on for a 39-36 win over Argos.
RHS, who was coming off a loss to Oregon-Davis Tuesday, bounced back to improve to 4-3. The 36 points allowed were the fewest they had allowed in a game.
Kaitlin Rogers came off the bench to score 11 and lead RHS. Emily Hughes came off the bench to score eight. But the hero might have been Brown, who scored five of RHS’ 11 points in the fourth quarter after not playing at all against Oregon-Davis 48 hours earlier.
“I think the biggest thing was Mercedes Brown,” Brian Jennings said. “She’s always been that intelligent guard in this halfcourt, grind-’em-out game. You put her on the point, and she made some really good decisions and made a couple of big shots for us, and that’s what we expected of that senior.”
Lizzy Edmonds had 16 points, 17 rebounds and four blocked shots for Argos. Sidelined with two first-half fouls, Edmonds had a double-double in the second half alone (12 points, 11 rebounds) and scored 11 of Argos’ 12 points in the fourth quarter.
“It definitely hurt us to have to take her out for a little bit, but she came in and had a heck of a fourth quarter,” Scott Jennings said. “So she played the way I expect her to play tonight. She battled (on) the boards. She got some good shots. And that’s what I expect from Liz every night. She’s just that caliber of player. Last two games haven’t shown that. She rolled an ankle a little bit in the North Judson game but bounced back from it this week, so she’s where we need her to be. She stepped up in the fourth quarter, and we were right there.”
Sophomore guard Emma Dunlap added 11 for Argos, who dropped to 0-7.
RHS had led by as many as seven points, but Argos got within 29-28 on an Edmonds 15-footer.
But on the ensuing possession, Brown drilled a 3-pointer from the right wing to get the lead back to four. It was Brown’s first field goal of the season.
Brown added two free throws to make it 34-28 with 4:47 left.
“Yes, I did, really bad,” Brown said when asked if she wanted to shoot that 3-pointer. “That's what I thought about on the bench was my shot. … I noticed nobody was guarding me, so I took the shot, and it went in.”
Edmonds, Argos’ junior post, wouldn’t relent. She turned an offensive rebound into a 3-point play.
Hughes made a free throw, but Edmonds scored again on a putback.
A Madi VanDerWeele free throw got Argos within 35-34, but Lexy Thomas put back her own miss, and Rogers scored on a post banker after VanDerWeele missed a one-and-one to make it 39-34.
Edmonds scored on yet another putback with 1.0 seconds left. Argos called timeout, but Rochester inbounded to Emma Howdeshell just before time expired.
Like the Oregon-Davis game, RHS didn’t have Lexy Thomas for a significant portion of the second half.
Against O-D, she picked up her fourth foul in the third quarter, and the Lady Zs let an 11-point lead slip and wound up losing by 11. Against Argos, she left with a lower body injury with RHS leading by one with 4:52 left in the third quarter. But this time, the RHS boat stayed afloat. When Thomas returned with 3:38 left in the game, RHS had increased its lead to 35-31.
“We’ve got post players that are interchangeable,” Brian Jennings said. “And tonight, we were just searching for who was going to step up and at what time. I thought Emily Hughes played a good stretch there. I thought it made a big difference when Kailin Rogers, we moved her to the inside. Lexy’s always a concern when she’s out of the game whether it be an injury or a foul because she’s our energy person at that post and talking, but we had others that stepped up.”
RHS fell behind 6-1 at the outset, but Edmonds picked up her second foul with 3:49 left in the first quarter. Edmonds returned with 4:17 left in the half, but RHS outscored Argos 13-2 while she was out.
Said Brian Jennings of Edmonds’ impact: “If it wasn’t for two early fouls, this game would have been a lot different. … You could see a difference when she came back in that second quarter. Argos’ energy picked back up again.”
It was noted to both coaches after the game that both didn’t get head coaching jobs until after their daughters had graduated high school.
Alexis Jennings, Brian’s daughter, played at Bremen. Hannah, Courtney and Mallorie Jennings, Scott’s three daughters, all played at Triton.
Brian said that he and Scott have similar philosophies on the game. Each attended their nieces’ games, and both Brian and Scott saw Whitney Jennings win the Miss Basketball Award at Logansport in 2014. Whitney’s father Doug is Brian and Scott’s older brother, and Whitney’s brother Matt currently plays at Grace College.
Bruce Jennings, another brother of Brian and Scott, is the principal at Bremen High School. Before getting into school administration, Bruce Jennings was a basketball coach at the freshman level.
“I think that the biggest thing is we both stepped aside when our daughters were playing to enjoy their careers,” Brian Jennings said. “We’re a basketball family. And when basketball is not part of that life, you’ve got to do something. And I think the biggest thing is when coaching jobs become available close to us … let’s give it a shot. So it’s that same thing. … It’s interesting how we got here.”
Scott Jennings said he didn’t talk much to his players much about the opposing coach, but he thought his team was aggressive on the boards and taking the ball to the hoop.
“I don’t know if we envisioned it or not, but basketball is in our family, and we’ve grown up with it,” Scott Jennings said. “We’re both in our 50s now, and I think you get to that age, and some of the life experiences you can give back and just some of the basketball knowledge we can give back to the girls now.
“It’s fun for us. That’s why we do it. It’s fun.”
Rochester 39, Argos 36
ROCHESTER (39) (4-3)
Kami Burkett 0 0-0 0, Emma Howdeshell 2 0-1 6, Kallie Watson 0 0-0 0, Kennedy Jackson 0 3-4 3, Lexy Thomas 2 0-2 4, Kim Batten 0 0-0 0, Sydney Haughs 0 0-2 0, Emily Hughes 3 2-4 8, Mercedes Brown 1 2-2 5, Kaitlin Rogers 3 3-3 11, Millie Scorsone 0 2-2 2
TEAM: 11 12-20 39
ARGOS (36) (0-7)
Sydney Shepherd 0 0-0 0, Emma Dunlap 3 5-6 11, Sophie Bollenbacher 1 0-0 2, Madi VanDerWeele 1 1-3 3, Lizzy Edmonds 7 2-3 16, Samantha Redinger 1 0-0 2, Isabella Stults 0 0-0 0, Carleigh Miller 0 2-2 2
TEAM: 13 10-14 36
Three-point field goals:
Rochester 5 (Rogers 2, Howdeshell 2, Brown),
Total fouls: Rochester 11, Argos 14
Turnovers: Rochester 24, Argos 16
Score by quarters
Rochester 9 11 8 11 – 39
Argos 8 9 7 12 – 36
Argos girls basketball coach Scott Jennings, left, and Rochester coach Brian Jennings converse before the teams’ game Thursday. The Lady Zs won 39-36 behind reserve Kaitlin Rogers’ 11 points.