It was going to be an uphill battle for the Wood Memorial High School Lady Trojans basketball team on Saturday night.
The Lady Trojans traveled to Vincennes Rivet High School to take on the rival Lady Patriots, a team the Trojans bested twice last season including a regional championship victory en route to an IHSAA Class A State Championship, in a Blue Chip Conference matchup. On top of the already tough road game, the Lady Trojans had to do it without head coach Johnnie Bartley, who was recovering from shoulder surgery.
The young Lady Trojans struggled to keep up with the tough Lady Patriots, falling for the first time this season 53-26.
"Turnovers hurt us quite a bit tonight," said Lady Trojans JV coach Whitney Powers who was filling in for Bartley. "Against a good team like that, it'll definitely hurt you. Rivet wanted to push and control the temp of the game. Our keys tonight were being patient. We didn't have the right matchup for Grace Waggoner and Tia Tolbert tonight, who we wanted to get and foul trouble and really focus on."
The Trojans jumped on the board first when senior Lexi Lashbrook hit a short jumper, but the Lady Patriots forced turnovers to go on a 12-0 run to force the first Wood Memorial timeout of the game.
Rivet ended the quarter with a 5-4 run to take a 17-6 lead into the second quarter.
Wood Memorial came out fighting, putting together a 5-0 run to start the quarter. But after a Rivet timeout, the Lady Patriots held the Trojans scoreless, and completed a strong defensive first half with 20 total turnovers, for the rest of the half to take a 27-11 lead into the intermission.
Wood Memorial tried to slow
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the pace of game with a two minute, 15 second first possession that ended in a Chloe Mowery three pointer, but the Lady Patriots answered less than 10 seconds later with a 3-pointer of their own and left the third quarter with a 20-point advantage, 42-22.
From there, the Lady Patriots cruised to the 53-26 victory with 22 points from Waggoner and 17 points from Tolbert.
Lashbrook led the way for the Lady Trojans with a team-high 11 points while also leading the team in rebounds.
"Lexi had a nice game. She fought until the end and worked hard down low," Powers said of the senior.
Sydney Lamar was second on the team with six points, Mowery tallied three points and the trio of Madison Frederick, Bailee Speicher and Cleo Dennison all tallied two points each.
"We're still very early in the season trying to put pieces together," Powers added. "These girls work hard and good things will come. This is a very good basketball team."
The team as a whole improved from the free throw line hitting nine of 12 shots from the charity stripe.
"That's been a focus all week," Powers said. "The girls really stepped up. When you tell them to work on something, they'll work on something."