When Lady Lions guard Jessica Moon’s shot sank through the basket to start off the scoring in Louisa’s scrimmage versus visiting Riverbend High School on Tuesday, Nov. 26, it marked the first points scored in an actual home game for Louisa’s girls basketball team in three years.
The team’s head coach, Jarred Soles, hopes that it also marks the beginning of a new era.
“It feels good,” Soles said of having an actual home gymnasium. “Just to play at a place you’ve played before and shoot on baskets that you’ve shot on before. The girls played hard. They made the most of their first night in the gym.”
In front of a raucous home crowd, the Lady Lions held their own in the four-quarter scrimmage, with the score being reset after every quarter. Louisa lost the first three quarters by a combined 20 points, but rallied for a 10-10 tie in the fourth quarter.
During the scrimmage, Soles said he was focusing on how his team held up not just physically, but mentally as well. Early on in the second quarter, he got the perfect situation.
Defensively, Riverbend started trapping after the first pass. It caught Louisa off guard, and the score quickly went from 2-5 to 2-11 within two minutes of play. After a quick timeout by Soles and a quick look at the coach’s whiteboard, Louisa returned to the court with a different strategy. Two out of the next three times down the court, Louisa scored on white open jumpers by forward Rebecca Brookman.
“That was good for us to practice making adjustments,” Soles said. “That was something the team did pretty well. In practice, you’re playing against yourself, so you kind of know what to expect. That’s why scrimmages are good for us.”
Though the Lady Lions were competitive in the first three quarters, they roared into action in the fourth. A beautiful up-and-under move by sophomore Nya Anderson on a fast break set the tone for the final quarter of play. Forward Bre’Shae Bell added four points with two jumpers from both sides of the basket. Riverbend controlled the ball for the final shot, but was unable to get off a good look thanks to Louisa’s defense.
Though the score was reset after every quarter, the final score would have read 53-33 in Riverbend’s favor. Still, Soles said he was impressed with his team’s composure and feisty attitude, especially given the fact that Riverbend is a 6A school with nearly 2,000 students.
For a team whose preseason goal was to be the most improved in the state in terms of wins – the Lady Lions failed to win a game last season – small victories such as breaking a press or playing team defense for a full quarter are signs of change and a renewed work ethic.
“I was pleased,” Soles said. “We can’t get cocky because we still need to practice. But for being so early in the season, I thought the girls did pretty well.”
The Lady Lions have their home game opener for the regular season on Friday, Dec. 6 against Harrisonburg at 7:30.