Lady Cougars hold on for home win
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It was a rough start, but a happen ending for the Lafayette Christian School Lady Cougars.
After being held to four points in the first quarter and falling behind by six points at the halftime break, Lafayette Christian came surging back in the second to earn a 36-34 home victory over Rock Springs Christian Academy.
Carmen Bridges hit a jumper with 1:36 to give the Lady Cougars the lead, and they held on for the hard-fought win.
Rock Springs had possession in the closing moments after Lafayette Christian missed a free throw, but it was unable to get a shot away before time expired.
While displeased with the way the game started, Lafayette Christian head coach said the players “showed a lot of resilience and a lot of grit.”
Gomez was particularly happy with the defensive effort in the second half, and that led to some success on the offensive end.
“We really worked hard on pushing the tempo on defense, and extending it past the midcourt line,” Gomez said. “We started to press. We pressed well on Monday against Griffin. We’re starting to get a little more comfortable with it. The difference-maker in that fourth quarter, we were able to get some good traps, and big steals, and we were able to get more opportunities at the rim.”
Estela Llorens, one of two seniors on the team, led the way in scoring with 12 points, and she made a 3-pointer in the third quarter that helped jump-start the comeback.
Juleigh Haynes added nine points, Carmen Bridges scored six points, Hana Stevens had five points, and senior Savanna Bryant chipped in with four points.
While Bryant didn’t have a big night scoring, Gomez said she was a key contributor as always.
“Savanna Bryant is hands-down our best player,” Gomez said. “She leads the team in all categories. Lately, she’s had a troublesome shoulder and has struggled scoring the ball, but she brings a lot of elements to the game, she rebounds well, she handles the ball well, and she’s able to work ahead and find the open man.”
Trailing 21-15 at the half, the Lady Cougars fell behind by as many as eight points in the third quarter before they started to find their offensive rhythm.
The deficit was five when Llorens made a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left in the quarter to get the Lady Cougars within two, and they were down 28-24 heading to the final quarter.
The Lady Cougars were still down by four when Llorens made two straight baskets to deadlock the score at 32-32 with 3:22 left in the game.
With 1:36 to play, Bridges connected on a short jumper to put the Lady Cougars on top 34-32, and they held the lead the rest of the way.
Bridges, in addition to making some critical baskets, was a force on the boards as she always is.
“She’s averaging 17 boards a game, and we have to help her,” Gomez said. “She’s had a couple of games where she’s gotten over 20. If she’s the only one rebounding, and everyone else is just standing around, she can’t do it all by herself, so we need to help her out a little better.”
The Lady Cougars have some key games coming up as they look to improve on their 3-0 region record.
“The bulk of our region games are still ahead of us,” Gomez said. “We feel like we match up well.”