By Nancy Leedy
12:54 PM EST, December 12, 2012
The Lincoln County girls played a unique opponent Monday night.
For the first time in their high school careers, the Lady Patriots faced a basketball team they knew nothing about as the Kilsyth Cobras, a traveling high school team from near Melbourne, Australia, made a stopover in Stanford during their tour of the United States.
The Lincoln girls exchanged gifts with the Kilsyth girls before tipoff, but that’s where the hospitality ended as the Lady Patriots turned a 10-point halftime lead into a cakewalk, knocking off their guests 73-39.
“We had a little bit of a slow start but once we got going we played really well and moved the ball well, and I was pleased with our performance,” Lincoln coach Cassandra McWhorter said. “Coming out slow was maybe a little nerves because they were playing a team from a completely different country, but they got over that.”
Emily Fox shot Lincoln into the blowout, scoring 15 of her game-high 25 points during the Lady Patriots’ explosive 49-point second half. Fox, who was 9-for-18 from the field, stepped behind the arc for all but two of her points, nailing 7 of 12 3-point shot attempts. She also had four assists and four steals.
Lincoln (4-1) had three players in double figures, with Sydney Harris going 7-for-12 for 16 points and Kourtney Belcher going 3-for-7 from the field and 4-for-4 at the foul line for 10 points. Belcher was Lincoln’s top rebounder with eight boards.
The Lady Patriots shot 52 percent from the field, going 29-for-56 with 11 3-pointers. Lincoln also cleaned up on the glass, outrebounding Wayne 30-27, with 21 defensive boards.
McWhorter knew Lincoln might be distracted by the unknown of playing Kilsyth, however, she said she was anxious to see the Lady Patriots’ response to the unfamiliarity.
“I thought it was good for our girls to play somebody that they just completely don’t know anything about. To see how we prepare mentally for a game, to see if we come out ready, and see if we come out and do the little things we talk about in practice every day,”¿she said. “I thought they did well.”
Lincoln never trailed in the game, with Fox draining her first trey to get the scoring started. Maddy Taranto answered with a bucket for Kilsyth to make it 3-2. But that would be the only Kilsyth shot to fall in the first. The Cobras, who were 15-for-44 overall from the field for 34 percent, went 1-for-11 in the first.
“We did a better job defensively and we mixed it up,”¿McWhorter said. “I think it hurt them a little bit the way we mixed up our defenses. We try to mix up defenses and go with what’s working. It helps us to get into our offense a lot better, too. When things are going good defensively, it helps us to score easy baskets and that’s always nice.”
Lincoln didn’t run into any of those easy baskets early on, with Fox’s trey the lone Lady Pat goal for the first 4 minutes, 32 seconds.
After a 1-for-7 start, McWhorter pulled her starters and replaced them with Spencer Sims, Tiandra Hocker, Caitlin Hall, Cristin Hall and Chansler Gilbert.
Lincoln finished the first 4-for-7 and on an 8-1 run, with Hocker igniting the scoring surge with a jumper. Sims followed with a bucket inside then Caitlin Adams closed with back-to-back shots in the paint to boost Lincoln ahead 11-3.
McWhorter said replacing her starters had little to do with performance and more with preparation for the season.
“We’re deep and it’s early in the season, and I want to get everybody game experience because I think that helps you in the long run,”¿she said. “Basketball is a long season. When you have 10 or 12 deep you want to get them all game experience so that way, when you do get to the end of the season, you’re not just throwing somebody in there.”
“It’s always good to get game experience because then I¿know they’ve been in there and I know they can handle pressure situations or they can handle the atmosphere.”
Kirsty Grant opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer to end the Lincoln surge, but Harris followed with a layup to set off another Lady Patriot run. Rachel Spangler, who had a game-high eight assists, added a bucket in the 21-2 blitz, Fox hit two 3-pointers, Harris knocked down seven more points and Belcher closed the run with back-to-back jumpers to cushion Lincoln’s lead to 32-8.
Grant answered Belcher’s baskets with two 3-pointers to get Kilsyth within 32-14 near the end of the first half.
That would be as close as the Cobras would get.
Lincoln blew the game wide open in the third quarter with a 34-9 run before moving on for the win.
“I’m pleased with the overall outcome tonight, but there are still a lot of little things that we can do better,” McWhorter said. “I preach about little things a lot and I think those little things will show up in the game film.”
Lincoln had just eight turnovers for the game compared to Kilsyth’s 20.
Lincoln finished with 23 assists and 13 steals.
Kilsyth had five assists and five steals.