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WJBD - Local Sports - After 2nd Place Mattoon Finish, Lady Cats Confidence Growing

After 2nd Place Mattoon Finish, Lady Cats Confidence Growing

By Toby Gullion

by Toby Gullion


- The Salem Lady Wildcats have definitely had their share of ups and

downs over the first half of the basketball season. After losing their

first five games of the year and 7 of their first 11, coach Janet

Holst's young 'Cats have reeled off 4 wins in their last five games.

The lone loss in that span was the title game from the Mattoon Holiday

Tournament where Olney erased a 6-point overtime deficit to shock the

Lady Cats 80-73 in overtime. It was the 2nd straight overtime game and

coach Janet Holst knows that it's those tests that will help her team

get to where they need to be at the end of the season.

"I love our girls' heart," said Holst after a recent game at the Mattoon

Tournament. "We are competing and starting to get that feeling that we

can compete and win every game we play. When we go into games with that

attitude, I love our chances."

One of the reasons for the

solid play for Salem has been the interior play of both Kyla Cook and

Annie Tucker. Cook was in the top 10 in scoring throughout the

tournament and hauled in several rebounds including a majority on the

offensive end. Tucker's defense was key in the game against Mattoon, in

which Salem needed a turn around bucket on the right block from Tucker

with just 2 seconds left to tie the game and send it into overtime where

Ms. Cook took over with 7 points and 5 rebounds in extra time.

But it wasn't just the upperclassmen that contributed. Salem also got

some quality minutes from their underclassmen. Highlighted by sophomore

guard Kaylee Beer's 3-pointer with 10 seconds left in the title game

against Olney to send the game into overtime. Along with freshman

Maddie Hood handling the ball, Salem has shown that the cupboard will not

be bare for several years.

And when you talk about guards, you

can't talk about Salem without talking about senior point guard Morgan

Hawkins. The senior has shown signs of toughness that has helped her

young teammates adjust to life at the varsity level.

The team

has benefited a ton from getting to play not only the varsity game, but

most contributors are seeing time in the JV games as well. It's a

double edged sword explains Holst.

"These girls are playing a

lot of minutes at the JV level and then we are asking them to put in the

time during the next game. And they need that court time right now,

but it does take its toll."

Salem will try to get some revenge

tonight when they travel to Olney for the third matchup of the season

against the Lady Tigers. Salem also fell to Olney in the Salem

Thanksgiving Tournament 55-39. After tonight, Salem will travel to

Paris on Monday and Charleston Thursday before opening up play in the

Scott Credit Union Highland Girls Tournament on Saturday, Jan. 12 at

1:30 against Carlyle.

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