Scott County’s holiday break did not go as planned.
Ranked No. 8 in the most recent Dave Cantrall state ratings, the Cardinals took a road loss to Mercy on Dec. 16 and then dropped two out of three at a tournament in Texas, spoiling a 6-0 start and threatening their rise back to relevancy in the 11th Region.
It didn’t set well. And unfortunately for Bryan Station on Friday night, Scott County (8-3) released all that frustration in a 78-28 thrashing at the Defenders’ expense. It was virtually the same Defenders team that knocked Scott County out of the 42nd District Tournament in the first round last season.
But these aren’t the same Cardinals.
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“Experience does a lot,” Scott County Coach Steve Helton said. “They talk about X’s and O’s and whatever else you want to say, but a year of experience really improves a team.”
Junior guard Peyton Riddle, the Cardinals’ leading scorer each of the past two seasons, has stepped up her offense averaging more than 20 points a game this season, about six points higher than her marks as a freshman and sophomore. The game against Bryan Station got out of hand early, but she still tallied 13 points, seven rebounds and a team-high six assists.
“I’m just looking to be more aggressive offensively,” Riddle said. “And if my teammates are hot, I also want to share the ball and get them open if I can.”
All five starters reached double figures against Bryan Station (7-7), led by freshman guard Morgan DeFoor’s 20 points. Senior forward Kadee Hudson scored 15 and grabbed 10 rebounds. Sophomore guard Maaliya Owens had 12 points and 11 boards. And senior Lauren Boehm, who tips center and appears to be the tallest player on the team though she’s listed as a guard, had a game-high 15 rebounds and 10 points.
“I think everybody’s starting to learn that everybody has to play a role,” Boehm said. “Everybody has to come together. You can’t just be one, two or three players scoring. Everybody has to play together whether they’re posts, guards … I mean, we all have to do our part.”
Another road game against Bryan Station should have put that team philosophy to the test, but when the Defenders don’t make shots, they can’t put on their harassing press. And Station misses led to fast-break buckets for the Cardinals as they shot to a 23-8 lead in the first period and never had to look back.
“Coming back off a long, long road trip, I didn’t know how we’d respond being back home, but I’m really pleased with our preparation for this game,” Helton said. “The kids bought into the game plan and they executed and did a great job tonight.
The game plan included a sagging man-to-man defense that invited the Bryan Station players to drive only to be met in the lane by helping defenders. Station’s senior leaders, J’Lyn Martin and Carah Burdette, combined for 4-of-32 shooting, more than half of the team’s shot attempts and almost half of its makes.
What’s scary for Scott County opponents is that Helton believes his team is still trying to find its identity after losing sophomore point guard Juliette Smith to injury in the preseason.
“Competition-wise, if we take care of the ball and do some good things, we can hang in there (with any team),” Helton said. “We have some kids who can put the ball in the hole. We have some kids who can defend. We play hard. That’s the thing I’m really pleased with, right now. For Jan. 6, I’m pleased with where we are.”
Scott County 78, Bryan Station 28
Scott County (8-3): Hudson 15, DeFoor 20, Owens 12, Riddle 13, Boehm 10, Holt 2, McMath 2, Sutherland 2, Christopher 2.
Bryan Station (7-7): Baczkowski 2, Hardin 3, Washington 7, Burdette 6, Martin 4, Clay 3, Burtes 2, Raglin 1.