Lady Bulldogs drop first game of the season

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 19, 2000

Sports Editor

The Pike County girls’ felt the sting of defeat for the first time this season Tuesday night and it wasn’t something they want to get to used to.

After beginning the season 11-0 and nabbing a No. 9 ranking in last Friday’s Class 4A poll, the Lady Bulldogs fell to the Lady Panthers of Geneva 62-53 in a battle that almost saw the Lady Bulldogs battled back from a 16-point deficit late in the third quarter.

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After the game Geneva head coach Sarah Kelly said it was her team’s defense and poise at the line down the stretch that won the game for the Lady Panthers.

"I knew it was going to be a defensive battle," Kelly said. "We were concentrating on our defense all the way and I tell them all the time it’s free throws and defense that will win the basketball game for you.

"This is a great team we played and we all know it," she continued. " Beating them once is hard enough, beating them twice is going to be a huge challenge. I’m glad they’re coming to our place that’s for sure."

Now both Pike County and Geneva hold 3-1 records in Class 4A Area 3. Geneva has lost to Daleville who the Lady Bulldogs have beaten twice so far this season.

With their first loss of the season coming in the Area loss as well, the Lady Bulldogs don’t have long to think about the past. Now, they must focus on the future and put this game far behind them.

"I think a lot of times when you lose a ball game, especially a big ball game like tonight, it’s got to make you a better ball player," PCHS head coach Leroy Bryant said. "We’re going to see them again, probably a couple more times when you count the Area tournament. We’re going to be a better ball club next time and we’re going to take it to them."

"We went through a stretch where we were undefeated and like I told these girls you learn more from a loss than you do from a win," Kelly agreed. "It helped us in the long run. I know what it’s like to play undefeated and it’s not something that you should even think or worry about."

The Lady Panthers went on a back-breaking 16-0 run at the start of the second half just after Bridget Barrow was able to tie the score at 28-28 on a long-range 3-pointer from the right wing.

Still, even after the run, in the final minutes of the third the Lady Bulldogs were able to cut the lead to only nine points notching the final six of the period.

Pike County continued to close in on Geneva in the final quarter, but after two consecutive shots by Andrea Bailey in the paint cut it to only a 46-41 lead, the Lady Panthers hit the cruise control button.

Geneva hit its free throws and played solid defense to stop PCHS run handing them their first loss of the season.

Geneva’s Melanie Simmons was able to hit on an outrageous shot drawing the foul with 4:55 left to push the lead back up to double digits and the Lady Bulldogs never recovered. The Lady Panthers milked the clock and waited for Pike County to come foul them en route to victory.

Now Geneva must face Pike County and Daleville once more in the Area giving them the toughest schedule of the two Area opponents. The Lady Bulldogs will travel down to Geneva Monday and Bryant promised that his girls will be ready.

"I’m surprised and I think everybody in Pike County was surprised that we went 11-0 before we got our first loss," Bryant said. "Geneva has a great ball club, but there is no doubt that our girls are going to bounce back from this. I’m anxious about playing again. I wish we were playing tomorrow night.

"We hold our own fate in our hands because we could win it or lose it, and these girls know that," he added. "We go down there Monday to Geneva and if we win we’re the Area champs, it’s that simple. No matter what, when we go down there Monday, we’re going to leave everything on the floor in Geneva."