Thomas, Rogers lead Lady Zs past Southwood
RHS commits 20 turnovers, misses 20 FTs, but survives to improve to 2-0 in TRC
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
WABASH –- Lexy Thomas scored 16 points, and Kaitlin Rogers tossed in 13 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the Rochester girls basketball team to a 49-39 win over Southwood Saturday.
The Lady Zs committed 20 turnovers and made just 11 of 31 free throws, but they survived to improve to 3-2 overall and 2-0 in the Three Rivers Conference.
Ella Haupert had 20 points for Southwood, including nine in the fourth quarter. However, it
didn’t prevent the Lady Knights from dropping to 2-4, 0-1.
The win was RHS’ first on Southwood’s floor since the 2014-15 semistate team did it.
RHS led 19-14 at halftime and got the first two buckets of the second half on a Thomas putback of her own miss and a steal and layup on the inbounds from Emma Howdeshell. That made it a nine-point game.
Southwood would get as close as 38-32 with 5:32 left in the game on a Haupert 3-pointer and transition layup.
RHS coach Brian Jennings signaled for a timeout, and the Lady Zs scored the next five points on a Rogers free throw, a Rogers putback of a Thomas missed free throw and a Thomas bucket in the post.
Jennings went to a 1-4 high offense in the second half and got greater offensive efficiency out of it. Typically, a post player would cut from the elbow to the opposite block for a quick flash in the post. Thomas and Rogers, each of whom is 5-10, combined for 20 of RHS’ 30 points in the second half.
“I think the biggest adjustment is we got some shots to drop a little bit,” Jennings said. “We changed and went to a high offense. So we were basically just screening across for our post players trying to get them to dive. And when we pulled everybody up high, we were hoping to give Kennedy and maybe Kaitlin some chances to drive baseline as we pull everybody up and give them a quick drive to the baseline. So we got into that a little bit, and it seemed to work, and I think we got a kick-out (pass) to Kaitlin for a 3 at one point in that, so we can make some different adjustments on offense, and really, I thought even in the first half, we got the ball where we wanted; we just didn’t get it in the basket.
“And that showed all night long with all the missed free throws. So it was just a poor shooting night.”
Thomas scored eight points in the fourth quarter, including a post banker and two free throws in the final three minutes. She also gobbled up five rebounds.
“I just felt like we’ve got to step up more,” Thomas said. “Because we’re a really good team, and I feel like if we all just give our 100 percent effort, then we can go far. I feel like we can go far this year. In the second half, we were all more energetic and more hyped up for the game.”
Southwood had no starter taller than 5-9 post Maggie Ball, who had nine points and eight rebounds. Rochester has five players taller than Ball, and RHS’ 2-3 zone was hard to navigate for the smaller Lady Knights.
“They took advantage of what their advantage was, and their advantage was their size,” Southwood first-year coach Kenneth Norman said. “It really is their length. They have some good guards, some fast guards that cover some ground. And then all of a sudden, you think you've beat them, and all of a sudden, you’re looking at 5-10, 6-1, 6-1, or whichever combination of them that they’re playing. And that’s hard when you get in there.”
The Lady Zs are 2-0 since having to stop basketball activities from Nov. 13-26 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Jennings and assistant coach Ray Davis later said they both tested positive for the virus, and Jennings said multiple players exhibited symptoms of the virus.
Rogers said that it’s hard to replicate Southwood’s pressure defense in practice, especially when it comes to pressuring at game speed. She described the two weeks away from the team as “awful.”
“It was so bad,” Rogers said. “I missed seeing all my teammates, and I miss having that bond in the gym. And I think that’s what made us closer these past few games is to get back in the gym and see each other every single day.”
Rochester went on a 12-2 run covering the first and second quarters to take a 19-10 lead. Kennedy Jackson got creative with a post scooper, Millie Scorsone hit a 15-footer off an inbounds pass, Kami Burkett scored on a driving layup, Rogers hit a 17-footer on a pick-and-pop, and Rogers scored again in transition.
Southwood did not have a field goal in the second quarter but hung within five at halftime.
RHS also won the JV game 33-19. Kallie Watson had 12 points, and Sydney Haughs chipped in 10 for the Lady Zs. Elizabeth Weaver added four, Savannah Eccles had three, and Emma Sells and Kylie Coleman had two each.
Rochester 49, Southwood 39
ROCHESTER (49) (3-2, 2-0)
Emma Howdeshell 1 1-2 3, Mercedes Brown 0 0-0 0, Lexy Thomas 6 4-13 16, Emily Hughes 0 0-2 0, Kaitlin Rogers 5 2-4 13, Kami Burkett 3 1-2 8, Kallie Watson 0 1-4 1, Kim Batten 0 0-0 0, Sydney Haughs 0 0-0 0, Kennedy Jackson 2 1-2 5, Millie Scorsone 1 1-2 3
TEAM: 18 11-31 49
SOUTHWOOD (39) (2-4, 0-1)
Ashley Smith 0 0-0 0, Ella Haupert 8 3-9 20, Alaina Winer 0 0-0 0, Aleia Sweet 1 0-0 3, Maggie Ball 3 3-4 9, Meredith Norman 0 0-0 0, Bailey Wyatt 2 1-2 7
TEAM: 14 7-15 39
Three-point field goals:
Rochester 2 (Rogers, Burkett),
Southwood 4 (Wyatt 2, Haupert, Sweet)
Total fouls: Rochester 16, Southwood 18
Turnovers: Rochester 20, Southwood 18
Score by quarters
Rochester 8 11 14 16 – 49
Southwood 8 6 11 14 – 39
JV: Rochester 33, Southwood 19