By Ben Hanneman
SWT Sports Writer
In basketball, speed kills. So does experience. So does height. So does depth.And a withering full-court press isn’t much fun either.
The Pulaski County Lady Cougars were slammed with waves of each Friday night as the Floyd County Lady Buffaloes, arguably the best team they’ll face all season, cruised to an 81-49 win in Floyd.
The Buffaloes jumped out—sprinted really—to a 29-8 lead in the first quarter as their size, quickness and smothering defense proved way too much for Coach Jason Grubb’s crew early on.
Floyd hit 12 of 28 field goals in the first stanza, including two of four from beyond the three-point line. Meanwhile, the Cougars, when they were able to successfully crack Floyd’s brutal press, could only manage to score on three of six shots from the floor.
“The first three minutes we hung tough and then there was about three minutes where they just went on one of those runs and rattled off 14 points,” Grubb said.
What hurt the Cougars most was Floyd’s ability to bring in a fresh five at any given time.
“They’re a very good team, very well coached and they’ve got a lot of experience. That’s something we don’t have a whole lot of right now. I told our girls that I thought this was the game that could get us experience and make us better. That’s the way we look at it.”
The Cougars fared a bit better in the second quarter. They allowed only 18 and scored 15 thanks in part to Meredith Mitchell’s eight points. Mitchell scored six from the free throw line. She missed only three of 15 free throws and as a team Pulaski was solid from the stripe, making 16 of 22 free throws.
“We have a good free-throw shooting team this year, which in the past we haven’t always had. But we do have some good free-throw shooters. So I think that in a lot of games we’re going to rely on points from the free-throw line,” he said.
In the third quarter Pulaski held the Buffaloes to just 12 points, four from the line and four of 16 field goals. Meanwhile, the Lady Cougars poured in 10 points on three of 12 shots from the floor and four free throws.
Maegan Memitt led the Cougars in the fourth with five points and Moriah Hinton added four in a 16-point quarter. But what impressed Grubb was Hinton’s aggressive play away from the basket.
“She’s aggressive. She’s a good athlete and has a good nose for the ball. She’s just a tough kid and her toughness impressed me a whole lot. I know that she’s got good skill, but her toughness has impressed me. It’s kind of tough for freshman to jump in there against a team like Floyd and mix it up and she did a fine job,” Grubb said.
Despite the lopsided loss, Grubb was pleased his team didn’t throw in the towel against a clearly superior team.
“I think the kids played hard and hung together. You know, they kept their heads up. They could have easily gotten down on themselves or gotten frustrated, but they didn’t. They stuck together as a team and I think that that bond is going to make us better down the road,” he said.
In terms of a barometer for the remainder of the season, Grubb said “Floyd is one of the toughest teams in this area, if not the toughest. They could be one of the teams we face all season. We do have a very tough schedule and there are going to be some other tough teams on there,” Grubb said.
How they compare with Salem, another of the toughest teams the Cougars will face, comes down to style Grubb said.
“Salem’s got some really skilled players, but they’re only going to play seven or eight kids. Floyd is going to press you all game with multiple presses, man, zone, half-court, full-court, three-quarter court and they’re going to run several players in an out at you, so it’s harder to adjust to.”
One adjustment Grubb was please with was movement away from the ball.
“I think it improved as the game went on. We prepared for it in practice. It’s hard to duplicate in practice, but I think that as the game went on we got a little bit better at it. We’re still not where we need to be on it at any level but we got better in that regard,” he said.
Grubb was also pleased with his team’s intensity.
“Floyd always plays with great intensity, so I told my players before the game that my expectation of them was to match Floyd’s intensity.
And I think for most of the night we did that as far as playing hard and playing aggressive,” said Grubb. “And I think they did a good job of that. And it’s always great to play against a team like that because you have to play hard. They make you play hard. It’s hard work to play against them, so that’s what we’re looking to get out of this game. If we can play with the same intensity against some of the other teams on our schedule then we’re going to have a lot of success.”