It’s a hard Knox life for Lady Lions
By John Mullen
A losing streak against a single opponent that has lasted 17 seasons looked all but over late in Thursday evening’s basketball battle between the Lady Lions and host Lady Warriors. However, as has been the case since a sectional-opening victory by Loogootee over NK at White River Valley on February 2, 1993, the Knox County outfit hung another excruciating loss on the local ladies, this one 37-34 in overtime.
The Lions played a lackluster first half, with silly turnovers and missed shots galore, and a rebound put-back by the home team just before intermission sent Coach Dave Smith pacing feverishly into the visitors locker room to address a squad that trailed by six tallies after scoring just fourteen points in sixteen frustrating minutes. Smith, who was without starting guard Waynessa Burch, after she was dinged up two nights prior at Eastern Greene, figured the struggle to get into any kind of offensive continuity would have a direct correlation with Burch’s absence. But, his message of being sick-and-tired of making excuses aptly lit a fire of some kind because the next fifteen-and-a-half minutes featured a scrappy assault that resulted in a 31-28 advantage with just about 30 seconds remaining.
A missed free throw opportunity followed by a three-point dagger from NK’s Kirstey Pembleton knotted the score at 31.
Tia Pennington rimmed out a twelve-footer just before the buzzer that would have won the game in regulation. Two more missed charity tosses with the contest tied at 34 again hurt Loogootee’s chances of ending the long losing skid against perhaps the biggest Blue Chip thorn in their side. A baseline jumper and free throw from Kayla Jones were the eventual knock-out blows that suppressed the Lady Lions regular season slate to 12-8.
Pennington made the other five shots she took in recording a team-high 10 points; her performance included another double-double as she grabbed an impressive 14 rebounds. Taylor Walker added nine on two trifectas and 3-4 free throw shooting. Wynter Wagoner scored eight, seven coming in the impressive third quarter spurt that put the Lions ahead for the time being. Kelci Mann scored just five and was a very uncharacteristic 3-7 at the stripe. Kayla Dant added a first period bucket.
Pembleton drained four three-balls en route to 15 while wide-body Jessica Wood hit for a dozen. Jones got six, three in the fourth and three in overtime.
All facets of Loogootee’s game must improve quickly if the Lady Lions want to compete in the opening round of the sectional against the tall and talented Barr-Reeve Lady Vikings.
Black & Gold brush by Eastern Greene
While BW3’s in Bloomington has a Tuesday night special on their famous Buffalo Wild Wings, a dozen or so miles to the west it was Tia Tuesday at Eastern Greene as the Loogootee junior was the main feature with a double-double in a 46-34 Lady Lion victory over the host Thunderbirds. Pennington rang up game-highs in points with 20 and rebounds with 10 as the visitors got out to a 24-12 lead at intermission, extended the advantage in the third quarter, and held on in a contest that turned football-ish in the last few minutes as EG mounted a rugged comeback.
The physicality of the game actually took its toll early on when senior guard Waynessa Burch collided knees with the opponent to begin the second period and was forced to the bench for the remainder of the evening. The interior of Pennington and Kelci Mann scored seven of the team’s eleven buckets in the post to jumpstart the first half. Mann would record double figures in the game as well with 10. Taylor Walker splashed two treys and a deuce to get eight, Wynter Wagoner hit for two field goals in the opening eight minutes for four, Burch recorded three, and Brooke Nonte added a late free throw to account for the scoring.
Eastern Greene was hurt by horrid shooting from both the field and the line; in fact, they made just 1-13 charity tosses overall.
The Lady Lions are 12-7 with a conference game remaining at North Knox on Thursday.
Both Wagoner and Walker have splashed 37 three-pointers on the year as they chase the season school record of 41.
The sectional assignment is a difficult one as Loogootee was ping-ponged with 19-1 Barr-Reeve in the Tuesday night opener at Jack Butcher Arena.