After 2nd Place Mattoon Finish, Lady Cats Confidence Growingby 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.
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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