Down 11, Oregon-Davis rallies to beat Lady Zs
Hughes, Howdeshell, Thomas score in double figures, but Lady Bobcats score 45 points in 2nd half
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
HAMLET –- A high school basketball game may last 32 minutes, but it took only four seconds for the momentum to change in the girls game between Rochester and host Oregon-Davis at the Bobcat Den Tuesday.
With 4:23 to go in the third quarter, Rochester junior post player and leading scorer Lexy Thomas picked up her third foul. Four seconds later, she picked up her fourth.
Thomas had to go to the bench. Rochester led 35-24 at the time, but the Lady Bobcats outscored the Lady Zs 43-21 the rest of the way to claim a 67-56 win.
“I think it was a key turning point because our leader went out of the game,” RHS coach Brian Jennings said. “She usually holds everything on the floor for us, and I think after she went out, we were looking for somebody to pick up, and who do we turn to, and what do we do. We stopped playing defense the way we did. We stopped running the offense the way we did. It was crucial. I mean, you can’t blame Lex. She was playing hard. She just happened to get four fouls. But that’s where we got to have somebody else pick up.”
Emily Hughes came off the bench to lead Rochester with 14 points. Emma Howdeshell added 12, and Thomas had 11 points and eight rebounds.
Both teams are 3-3.
Madilynn Hudspeth scored a game-high 18 points for O-D. Mercedes Rhodes added 17, and Mackenna Chessor and Elizabeth Johnson added 12 each.
Rhodes, who has already passed the 1,500-point mark for career, overcame earlier face-guarding from RHS defenders Kami Burkett and Kallie Watson. Taking over primary ballhandling responsibilities in the fourth quarter, she scored 12 points in the final stanza.
“We kind of needed to do a change once we fell behind, so we went to man-to-man, and our help side (defense) in man-to-man wasn’t very good,” Jennings said. “So when she drove, everybody stayed on their person and gave her some good looks. Or we had to foul and put her at the line. We told the girls a few weeks ago, we played some man-to-man early, but they stopped feeling comfortable with it, so we went to a zone, and we told them in close games and crucial games, we’re going to have to play some man-to-man defense.
And that’s where it came down tonight. We had to play man-to-man, and we just couldn't get stops out of it.”
But the most timely points might have come from Chessor, who scored eight points during a 10-2 run in the final 1:45 of the third quarter, including 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions from the top of the key.
Her first trey gave O-D the lead for good at 43-42 with 32 seconds left. Then added another from about the same spot to increase the lead to four.
Reagan Danford, a freshman reserve guard playing in the first game of her varsity career, also hit a pair of 3-pointers in the third-quarter rally for O-D.
The Lady Zs would cut the deficit to two on three different occasions in the fourth quarter. The last time came when Howdeshell hit Kennedy Jackson in stride for a fast-break layup that made it 50-48 with five minutes left.
But Rhodes and Hudspeth, the Lady Bobcats’ top post player, would sandwich 3-point plays around a Hughes up-and-under bucket in the post to get the lead to eight.
“I think we just started playing more as a team instead of as individuals,” O-D coach Terry Minix said. “I thought our defense picked it up obviously in the second half. It was much better. Our rotation was better, and I thought we did a better job of running the floor, and that’s something we like to do is get up and down the floor a little bit more. We don’t press as much this year just because this group is extremely young. So since we don’t press, we’re going to try to push the ball up the court as much as we can.”
O-D put the game away by making five of seven free throws in the fourth quarter. For the game, O-D went 17 for 23 from the line while RHS made just two of nine.
RHS is just 13 for 40 in their last two games from the line.
“A lot of it is just right between their ears,” Jennings said of the foul shooting woes. “It’s a free throw. They’ve shot them since they were in third and fourth grade. It’s just your shooting form. You step up. You point your toes. You bend your knees. You follow through, and you extend up on your toes, and you make free throws. But I think now we’ve got people thinking about whether they can make a free throw or not. So we’ll shoot a few (on Wednesday) in practice, but it’s not something we're going to spend a lot of time on because that’s something they need to do in the summer.”
RHS led 28-22 at halftime and extended the lead to 11 in the first three-and-a-half minutes of the second half. Thomas put back her own miss, Kaitlin Rogers hit a 3-pointer, and Kennedy Jackson scored on a putback.
But then came Thomas’ foul trouble. Hudspeth made her first free throw but missed her second, and Rhodes got the offensive rebound and was fouled. Rhodes made both free throws, and Johnson hit a 3 after a defensive stop.
Millie Scorsone scored twice for RHS, but Danford answered with her 3-pointers both times.
Howdeshell split a pair of free throws to make it 40-36, but then Chessor got hot.
“I was extremely worried about them because of their size,” Minix said of the Lady Zs. “It’s not like there’s just one like we have Maddy Hudspeth down low. They have three and four of them, and one gets a foul problem, and the next one comes in.
“They’re going to be fine. I know it’s the middle of December, but for most teams, it’s only four or five games into the season just because of everything going on. They’re not going to have any issues moving forward because that is a really, really good team plus Brian Jennings is a really, really good coach. So they’ll be fine moving forward.”
There was no JV game due to O-D’s lack of numbers.
A late addition to the schedule, this was the teams’ first meeting since December 2012. Both teams won their respective sectionals last year.
Oregon-Davis 67, Rochester 56
ROCHESTER (56) (3-3)
Kami Burkett 0 0-0 0, Emma Howdeshell 5 1-2 12, Kaitlin Rogers 3 0-0 7, Kennedy Jackson 2 0-4 4, Lexy Thomas 5 1-1 11, Kallie Watson 1 0-0 2, Kim Batten 0 0-0 0, Sydney Haughs 1 0-0 2, Emily Hughes 7 0-2 14, Millie Scorsone 2 0-0 4
TEAM: 26 2-9 56
OREGON-DAVIS (67) (3-3)
Elizabeth Johnson 5 0-0 12, Mercedes Rhodes 4 9-12 17, Mackenna Chessor 4 2-2 12, Kylee Saylor 1 0-2 2, Madilyn Hudspeth 6 6-7 18, Reagan Danford 2 0-0 6, Madison Wireman 0 0-0 0, Hemi Stone 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 22 17-23 67
Three-point field goals:
Rochester 2 (Howdeshell, Rogers),
Oregon-Davis 6 (Chessor 2, Johnson 2, Danford 2)
Total fouls: Rochester 20, Oregon-Davis 7
Fouled out: Burkett (RHS), 1:14, fourth
Turnovers: Rochester 17, Oregon-Davis 19
Score by quarters
Rochester 12 16 14 14 – 56
Oregon-Davis 12 10 24 21 – 67