By Keith Taylor
Sun Sports Editor
9:49 AM EST, November 27, 2012
George Rogers Clark girls basketball coach Robbie Graham knew what he was getting into when he added defending state runner-up Marion County to the schedule shortly after taking over as coach of the Lady Cardinals last spring.
The Clark coach wasn’t surprised with the final outcome and chalked up the season-opener as a learning experience following the Lady Cardinals’ 66-20 loss to the Lady Knights Monday night at Norton Gymnasium.
“They’re a really good team and we knew that going in,” Graham said. “We were back on our heels at the start of the game and I told (the girls), if you play soft, they’re going to attack you and it’s going to be a rough go. You have to be aggressive and we didn’t do that.”
The Lady Knights, whose starting lineup features University of Kentucky signees Makayla Epps and Kyvin Rogers-Goodin, scored the first 31 points and led 35-1 before Clark mustered its first field goal of the season on a basket by Lexxus Graham with 5:28 remaining in the first half. Clark scored just one point — a free throw by Sandra Skinner — in the first frame.
Clark had trouble with Marion’s trademark press and committed 15 miscues in the opening half, including 10 in the first eight minutes, leading to several breakaway opportunities by the guests on the other end of the court.
“They feed off turnovers,” Graham said. “You make a turnover and they’re going to make you pay. They shot the ball really, really well. We saw a couple of games where they didn’t shoot too well, but they’ve got some shooters.”
Epps and Rogers-Goodin combined for 29 points, with Epps, daughter of former Kentucky standout Anthony Epps, scoring 16, with nine of those coming in the first quarter. Epps and Rogers-Goodin sat out the final quarter, giving Marion coach Trent Milby an opportunity to rest his two star standouts.
“She makes them go and she’s a leader,” Graham said of Epps. “But, I tell you, Rogers-Goodin is good too. She is as good as I’ve seen in high school — boys or girls.”
Graham was pleased with his team’s fight despite the lopsided margin.
“We didn’t quit,” he said. “We played hard to the end. Like I told the girls, we’ve got 29 more of these to go. Nobody cut the nets down and nobody gave out a trophy. I knew it was going to be tough, but what I wanted to do with this game, I wanted to establish with our girls in our locker room, with our young girls, with our school and with our community is that we’re going to play good teams.
“We’re not going to avoid anybody. It’s going to help us in the long run. We’re going to learn and get better.”
Next game: vs. Ashland Blazer, 6:30 p.m., Saturday at Norton Gymnasium.
Marion 33 12 14 07 — 66
Clark 01 08 04 07 — 20
MARION¿COUNTY¿(1-0) — Epps 16, Tonge 10, Rogers-Goodin 13, Powell 10, Calhoun 10, Howard 4, Wheatly 3.
CLARK¿(0-1) — Graham 2, Skinner 5, Murphy 4, Taylor 3, Hammonds 1, Irvin 3, Anderson 2.