By Ethan Colbert
A 31-point contribution from senior Gabi Deters made the difference for the Bowling Green High School girls’ basketball team on Monday evening as the Lady ‘Cats defeated the Hannibal High School Lady Pirates, 55-40, in the season opener.
In the opening minutes of the non-conference game, Deters put the team on her back, scoring the team’s first nine points and shooting a perfect 3-for-3 from behind the arc.
Her performance kept the young Lady ‘Cats in contention with the Hannibal Lady Pirates.
The Lady ‘Cats would tie the game at 13 at the end of the first quarter.
“That was big,” Bowling Green High School Head Coach Craig Smith said after the game.
“Obviously, Gabi was hot,” Smith said later. “Our other girls were kind of struggling in getting to the rim. I think Hannibal did a really good job of scouting our offense at the jayvee level and figuring out what kind of things we would be doing tonight, but Gabi helped out and opened up our offense.”
While Hannibal may have had an answer for what the Lady ‘Cats were trying to do offensively, the Lady Pirates had no answer for the full court pressure that the Lady ‘Cats unleashed in the third quarter.
“I was really impressed with how we came out in the second half,” Smith said after the game.
Within the first two minutes of the second half, the Lady ‘Cats had erased a two-point halftime deficit and emerged with a five-point lead, which they would never give up for the remainder of the game.
“We really separated ourselves, and that goes along with the conditioning that we are doing in practice,” Smith said. “We are trying to get into the second half and to be better conditioned than the other team.”
Yet, Smith said his team still has to improve their conditioning, particularly their mental conditioning.
“We need to be better conditioned mentally, especially when we get tired,” Smith said. “We need to not be reaching in with our hands. We stress in practice that you need to guard with your hands out wide and parallel to your body.”
Several times during Monday night’s game, the defense showed some cracks as the Lady ‘Cats committed 19 fouls.
Nevertheless, Smith said he believes that the mental toughness aspect of the game “will come with time.”
Of his halftime adjustments, the new head coach said he talked with the team about increasing their intensity on the defensive side of the game.
“We started getting our hands up,” Smith said. “We started getting a lot of tipped balls.”
Those intercepted passes translated to fast-break points for the Lady ‘Cats.
After the game, Smith had high praise for junior Kinley Charlton, who proved to be a dominating defensive force in Monday night’s game.
“Kinley Charlton came up big,” Smith said. “I think she got her hands on four or five balls in a row. That was huge for us to be able to get tips, then steals, and then to be able to get out and run.”
According to Smith, running the floor is something that the Lady ‘Cats do well and will plan to do throughout the upcoming season.
“That is what we want to do,” Smith said. “I think we have the horses to run with it. So let’s jump out there to get those tips and then go from there.”
Up next for the Lady ‘Cats (1-0) is the first round of the Montgomery County Invitational, where the team is seeded as the second-best team in the tournament. The Lady ‘Cats will face off against the Fulton Lady Hornets in a 6 p.m. contest on Monday, November 26, 2018. This game will be played in the Middle School Gymnasium at Montgomery County R-II.
Statistics — Scoring: Gabi Deters, 31 points; Madeline Norton, 9 points; Kinley Charlton, 6 points; Morgen Billings, 6 points; Grace Twellman, 4 points; and Jade Meier, 2 points.