Basketball, as the old coaching cliché goes, is a game of runs. All it took was one hot-shooting quarter from Cherokee to nullify an otherwise solid night from the Lady Devils for their season opener on Jan. 5.
Cherokee outscored Swain 32-16 in the second quarter, and the margin proved to be the difference as the Braves held on for a 73-64 win.
“I thought for three quarters, we played pretty well,” said Lady Devils head coach Michael Turner. “For three quarters it was 48-41, but our second quarter really hurt us. Ross (Cherokee junior guard Vivian Ross) caught on fire and we didn’t do a good job of adjusting our alignment on defense.”
Turner said his team played well on the offensive end, but the defensive lapses in the first half proved to be too much to overcome.
“If you are able to score 64 points, if you score that much your defense should be able to win you the game, but like I said, that second quarter really hurt us,” he said.
Resiliency is key for prolonged success, particularly with a tight schedule, and Swain bounced back with a big win against Andrews, 67-20, over the weekend to push its record to 1-1. Amaya Hicks led the way with 18 points and six steals. Mazie Helpman added 11 points, five steals, and four rebounds. Savana Smith also hit double-figures with ten points. In all, nine players scored for Swain.
“We did a lot better rotation-wise,” Turner said of his team’s defense in the second game. “We were able to force a lot of turnovers. We had good balance scoring and were able to get everybody in the game to get some reps, get some minutes and kind of see what it looks like live. I think we took what we didn’t do well in the Cherokee game and were able to apply it to Andrews.”
The bounce-back win gives the team momentum heading into its toughest test yet against Murphy on Friday.
“They’re really good,” Turner said of Murphy. “They were state champions last year and they lost a couple of girls, but they are still really good. The first couple of games they beat Andrews 78-4 and Nantahala 100-16. They’re a really good team, they’re well-coached, and they’ve got a D1 girl.”