GIRLS' PREP BASKETBALL: Lady Trojans roll over Knox after slow start (12/09)

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By Josh Claywell

Senior forward Chanel Roberts didn’t want to have practice after Friday night’s game against 17th District foe Fort Knox.

North Hardin got off to a sluggish start, turning the ball over twice on its first two possessions and missing its first three shots. That prompted assistant coach and former star Hope Brown to tell the Lady Trojans they would have practice after the game if they didn’t pick up their intensity.

Challenge accepted.

North Hardin outscored Fort Knox by 23 points in the third quarter and Roberts posted her fourth straight double-double in leading the Lady Trojans to a 73-17 win at Ron Bevars Gymnasium.

“We had to pick it up and do what we needed to do,” said Roberts, who had 19 points, 11 rebounds, four steals and three assists. “The main part was defense; we were just being lazy. Coach Brown came to us when we were warming up at halftime and told us if we didn’t pick it up, we were going to have practice after the game. I think that’s when everybody turned it on.

“I didn’t want to practice after the game,” she added. “Nobody wants to practice after a game, especially knowing they have to wake up and come play the next day.”

Thanks to an impressive third-quarter scoring burst, the Lady Trojans (3-1, 1-0 district) didn’t have an extra practice session.

Freshman guard Tamiah Stanford scored seven of her 16 points in the period, helping her team turn a 41-9 halftime lead into a 64-11 advantage going to the fourth.

The running clock, which begins when a team is leading by 35 or more points, started in the third after junior guard Kiera Jones drained a 3-pointer 30 seconds into the period.

It might have taken his team a bit to get going, but second-year coach Chris Corder said he’s pleased with the end result.

“We weren’t ready to play,” Corder said. “Our warm-up was awful. We turned it over the first two times we touched it. This group, unfortunately, is notorious for starting slow and has been since last year. I subbed and tried to get something going. But when we don’t get into our press, sometimes it takes us a while to get going. Tonight, we just wanted to work on some different stuff. Part of that is attributed to us not following what we normally do and part of it was we just weren’t ready.

“There won’t be a lot of games where we deviate from our game plan like that,” he added. “We haven’t pressed as much this year, but that’s the one thing that gets us going. Once we get going up and down the floor, it seems like they lock in a little better. That’s the way we practice. We don’t do a lot of half-court stuff in practice, and it showed tonight. We looked lethargic and just not ready to play.”

Fort Knox (1-3, 0-2) held the lead once against the Lady Trojans. After sophomore guard Brenna Stephenson had a steal and layup, she drained a left wing 3-pointer to give her team a 5-4 lead.

“The beginning of the game, we were slow,” said Stanford, who also had three assists, three steals and one rebound. “But once we got going, we picked it up as a team.”

Indeed the Lady Trojans did.

Including a 3-pointer from Roberts, North Hardin used a 23-2 run to take a 27-7 lead midway through the second period.

“It was time for us to get in gear,” said Corder, whose team beat the Lady Eagles for the 21st straight time. “We’ve got a chance to be really good, but we’ve got to take every game seriously. We’ve got to get better each time we go out, whether it’s in practice or in a game. It’s a district game. I don’t care how many times we’ve beaten them. They can’t pay attention to stuff like that.”

North Hardin outscored Fort Knox, 55-4 over the second and third periods.

Using this game as time to work on different things, every Lady Trojan who dressed played and 11 of them scored.

“It was a good game for us to work on some things,” Roberts said. “We worked on some of our offensive sets and our communication when we’re on defense.”

Corder said he wanted his team to work on its half-court defense, something the Lady Trojans don’t do much of in practice or in games.

“These next seven days are going to tell us a lot about where we are as a team,” he said. “This game was more of a measuring stick of how we approach the game. It took us too long to get going. No disrespect to Fort Knox, but against a good team you’ll get buried if you come out like that.”

The Lady Eagles lost their 97th straight district game. Their last win, ironically, came against North Hardin on Dec. 13, 2002.

Stephenson was her team’s lone bright spot Friday. She finished with a team-high nine points, a game-best six steals and two rebounds.

UP NEXT: North Hardin, which played Madison Southern on Saturday, plays at LaRue County at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Fort Knox, which played North Oldham on Saturday, plays at Taylor County at 6 p.m. Monday.

Josh Claywell can be reached at (270) 505-1752 or jclaywell@thenewsenterprise.com.