The Lovell Lady Bulldogs cranked up their defensive intensity after what coach Chris Edwards said was a lackluster effort in Ethete Thursday, and the Rocky Mountain Lady Grizz paid the price Saturday night in the battle of local rivals as Lovell stopped Rocky 59-27.
Lovell beat Wyoming Indian Thursday, but Edwards wasn’t happy with his team’s defensive play, which became the focus of a Friday practice.
“Friday night in practice we spent an hour and a half working on defensive intensity drills and loose ball effort drills,” Edwards said. “I thought that carried over into Saturday night’s ballgame. Our defensive intensity made the Rocky guards uncomfortable.
“The transition game for us was effective, and all that started with the defensive effort. We talked about five girls rebounding on every possession, and I thought those girls showed that on Saturday night.”
“The game came down to energy,” Rocky coach Eric Honeyman said. “Lovell was pumped up for their first home game and we just couldn’t match it. I could tell it was our first game of the year and just wish it wasn’t against Lovell.
“Our girls really struggled with Lovell pressure; they just kept coming at us. We tried to match up with them but got into foul trouble with our starters. I had every starter with at least four fouls in that game. We were so nervous and I think frustrated that we had a tough time running any offense.”
The two foes traded baskets early as a three-pointer and drive by Charri McArthur for Lovell were matched by a spinning bank shot and jumper by Marissa Arnold. But Lovell stepped up the defense and allowed only one basket the rest of the quarter and outscored Rocky 11-2 to lead 16-6 at the quarter break.
Lovell scored the first 9 points of the second quarter to lead 25-6. Mykelle Nichols launched the run with a trey off a kick-out pass from Emily Snell, and Sara Clark executed a move and bank shot to keep the momentum. Maddy Hocker broke the ice for Rocky with an inside move, but Lovell kept rolling and outscored the Lady Grizz 13-3 the rest of the half to lead 38-11 at halftime. Seven players scored for Lovell in the first half.
“Offensively, we had a similar game plan as in Ethete,” Edwards said. “We wanted to be patient, get high quality shots and force Rocky to foul us. We knew if we were fortunate enough to get a couple of their girls in foul trouble that would give us matchup advantages. Hocker, (Livia) Higgins and Arnold all had three fouls in the first half.
“There were two or three four- to five-minute stretches where Rocky didn’t score. They didn’t get any offensive rhythm until the last three minutes of the game.”
Lovell outscored Rocky 12-3 in the third quarter to lead 50-14, and Rocky came back in the fourth with a 13-9 advantage.
“We struggled with help side defense and didn’t rebound and didn’t communicate on defense,” Honeyman noted. “It was the first game with three new starters. We will get better, I promise you that. The girls as well as coaches are ready for the weekend. We just needed more practice before Lovell and didn’t get it.
“The good thing about the game is that we, as a team, know where we need to get better at. So this week we are focused on those areas and are getting ready for Saratoga Friday. They already beat Shoshoni so this should be a good test for us to see where we kind of line up.”
Ten Lovell girls got into the scoring column Saturday. Savanna Savage led the balanced attack with 12 points, and McArthur added 10 points, Nichols 9 and Kaitlyn Mickelson 8.
Savage grabbed eight rebounds to lead the Lady Bulldogs, Mickelson and Snell seven each. Madison Harper led with four assists, and Nichols and McArthur had three steals each.
Arnold led Rocky Mountain with 13 points.
Both Lovell and Rocky Mountain will travel to tournaments this weekend. Lovell will be in Lander for the East-West Classic while Rocky Mountain travels to the Sho-opolis Shootout hosted by Shoshoni and Thermopolis.
The Lady Grizz play Saratoga Friday at 1 p.m. in Thermop and on Saturday they take on Cokeville at noon and Dubois at 6 p.m., both in Shoshoni.
The Lovell varsity squad will meet Lander Friday at 7:30 p.m., Wheatland Saturday at 9 a.m. and Douglas Saturday at 3:30. The JVs will take on Lander Friday at 4:30 p.m. Wheatland Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and Douglas Saturday at 5 p.m. Varsity games are in the fieldhouse, JV games in the auxiliary gym.
Summer Johnson 0 0-0 0, Brianna Brumwell 0 2-2 2, Abby Arnold 0 0-0 0, Marissa Arnold 4 3-6 13, Maddy Hocker 1 0-2 2, Livia Higgins 1 0-0 2, Brenda Timmons 0 2-6 2, Sam Beltran 1 0-0 2, Pepper Lewis 2 0-1 4, Bricki Durand 0 0-0 0. Totals 9 7-17 27.
Madison Harper 1 2-2 4, Mykelle Nichols 3 2-2 9, Shelby Wardell 3 0-3 6, Savanna Savage 2 8-10 12, Mikkel McIntosh 0 2-4 2, Trysa Flood 1 1-2 3, Charri McArthur 4 1-2 10, Kaitlyn Mickelson 2 4-4 8, Emily Snell 0 0-0 0, Mandi Jo Baxendale 0 0-1 0, Sara Clark 1 0-2 2, Madison Bryson 1 1-2 3. Totals 18 21-34 59.
Rocky 6 5 3 13 – 27
Lovell 16 22 12 9 – 59
Three-point field goals – M. Arnold 2; Nichols 1, McArthur 1. Fouled out – Hocker. Total fouls – Rocky 26, Lovell 18.
By David Peck