The Ripley Lady Jays returned to action for the first time since the Pepsi Classic with a home contest against the Lady Cats of Fairfield Local.
It was not a pretty sight early on. The Lady Jays struggled at both ends of the court and found themselves trailing 29-14 at the end of the first half. Head coach Chris Coleman noted his team’s performance wasn’t good, but Fairfield’s hot shooting didn’t help the matter.
“They shot the lights out,” Coleman said. “We didn’t defend very well and turned the ball over too much.”
The second half was a completely different story. Ripley out-scored the Lady Cats 12-10 in the third quarter and turned it on even more in the fourth, putting up 20 points on offense. Coleman said he talked to the team at halftime and there was a noticeable difference.
“Our effort was a lot better,” Coleman said. “We were a lot more focused and ready to play.”
However, the team struggled with Grace Shope. The sophomore put up 29 points in the game, including a clutch performance from behind the arc in the third quarter. She finished with a double-double, hauling in 12 rebounds as well, in addition to four steals and three assists. Coleman said he wasn’t sure why his team was not able to slow down Shope.
“I don’t know,” Coleman said. “She’s a really nice player, we just didn’t do a good enough job at knowing where she was at. We let her get away from us. There were a few possessions in the third quarter where she hit some threes on us…It’s just not keeping up, not knowing where she was at and not recognizing that. She did a nice job, she hit some hard shots.”
The Jays would allow 13 points in the fourth quarter and lose the game 52-46. Kacy Gilkerson led the Lady Jays with 17 points. Coleman said she’s becoming a bigger part of the team’s gameplan on offense, something the squad needs.
“Kacy played well,” Coleman said. “The last couple games, she’s starting to score a little more and we need that. She’s starting to factor in a little bit more and we’ve been working with her on that. She’s getting better.”
No other Lady Jay finished in double-digits. Kassey Arnett tallied nine points while senior Kristen Abbott chipped in seven. Freshman Carlee Daulton added seven as well. Cailey Kirk, Jennnifer Eichner and Kursten Prater all scored two points apiece for the Lady Jays.
The loss drops the Lady Jays to 4-8 on the season, 2-5 in Southern Hills Athletic Conference play. The team will have a pair of chances to improve on their record, starting Thursday, Jan. 7 against Whiteoak. After that road contest, Ripley returns to The Nest for a home match against Blanchester on Saturday, Jan. 9. T
“Whiteoak’s really athletic,” Coleman said. “We’re going to have to come ready to play and put full effort in for 32 minutes. Blanchester’s going to turn up the pressure, so we have to really try to focus on taking care of the basketball.”