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Lady Lions juggle Rox
By John P. Mullen
   Last year’s memories of a season-opening loss on Shoals’ home floor were put to a final rest Friday evening inside a jazzy Jack Butcher Arena as the host Lady Lions got off to a good start with a convincing 48-33 victory.  With chili cookin’, the band playin’, and the cheerleaders and Lionettes on hand for the gals season debut, Coach Dave Smith’s pack roared out to an early 10-2 lead.  
   The Jug Rox, who came into the county rivalry already having played two games, struggled to hit the basket against Loogootee’s collapsing zone defense.  
   Kelci Mann put in eight of the tallies in the first frame, including the first three-pointer of her career.  The lead ballooned to 16-4 midway through the second stanza before the Jug Rox rallied to within 18-11 at intermission.  
   During halftime, the entire girls feeder system, grades five through eight, were on hand for introductions as Smith planned for opportunities to get as much exposure as possible for the sport of girls basketball.  
   Shoals cut the lead to five, 24-19, four minutes into the third before a Wynter Wagoner dish to Mann for a lay-up and then a Wagoner driving lay-in built the lead back to nine points and forced the visitors to take a time-out at 2:41.  A minute later, Tia Pennington dropped in two charity tosses for a 30-19 advantage.  The score remained the same to begin the fourth period of play.  Danielle Turpin hit a bucket to open the Rox scoring but missed the three-point play opportunity.  From that point, Mann, Wagoner, and Tia Pennington scored hoops to jump the difference to 36-21.  A Wagoner three-ball gave the home team what would become an insurmountable 39-23 edge.  Taylor Walker drained a 3 for Loogootee’s biggest bulge, a 42-25 lead, before Ashley Taylor responded with an old-fashioned three-point play at 2:45.  
   Shoals popped for five sandwiched around Pennington’s deuce as the scoreboard read 44-33 in favor of the Lions at 1:48.  
   The last minute and a half, Loogootee did their best to break the Jug Rox full-court press.  Walker missed her first bonus attempt, but the next time down the floor, she connected on both free shots to virtually ice the game and assure the Lions of a W in the first Blue Chip Conference game match-up of the season for either team.  The two post players dominated action under both baskets as Mann racked up 16 to go with eight rebounds and Pennington laced them up for the first time since her freshman season and racked up a double-double, 15 points and 13 rebounds.  
   Walker finished with eight, Wagoner seven to go with six assists, and Waynessa Burch two points.  Burch led the Lady Lions defense in essentially shutting down Turpin, holding her to 10.    
   Taylor and Michaela Brockman put up nine each for the now 1-2 Rox.  
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