In its first game in more than a month, the Westminster Christian Academy girls basketball team took a tough loss.
The Lady Lions hosted Lake Oconee Academy last Saturday, their first game since early December. The result was a 66-32 defeat.
Westminster head coach Chandler Deep said “not much” of the outcome had to do with his team knocking off rust. Rather, Deep said that the final score was indicative of LOA’s strength.
“That team is solid,” Deep said of the undefeated Lady Titans. “That's the best team we'll see all year. Depending on whose rankings you go by, they're one of the top Single-A public schools in Georgia. That was good for us to just get back out on the floor.”
Despite facing an overwhelming challenge in LOA, Deep credited his players for their tenacity.
“We just did the best we could,” Deep said. “I love my team's effort. That's one thing I can appreciate is we at least played hard. That's all I can ask in that situation.”
The first quarter saw Westminster fall behind 17-4 by a timeout at the 3:11 mark of the first quarter.
Steals largely played a role in LOA’s early scoring surge. The Lady Titans employed an effective press defense that gave the Lady Lions fits.
“We haven't seen pressure like that,” Deep said. “They took it to us. They were more aggressive and assertive. We played a little intimidated, it looked like, to start with. Just not being out there in a while, it showed. That's what they do to people: If you can't handle the ball very well, that happens.”
Though they found ways to break the press later in the quarter, the Lady Lions struggled scoring. The score stood at 29-4 at the end of the first.
Not much changed during the second quarter, which ended with LOA ahead 48-9.
The Lady Lions reached double digits in the third quarter but still trailed 61-24 at the end.
Defense ruled the fourth quarter. Neither team found much sustained success offensively but Westminster chipped away and made shots down the stretch.
Deep said that late substitutions by LOA coach Kevin Furtado helped his team find success before the game ended.
“He helped us out a little bit,” Deep said of Furtado. “He subbed some of his top people and that gave us an opportunity. When you get a little rhythm, it kind of builds your confidence. They kept playing hard.”
It was no disrespect to his own team.
Deep said he is confident his players will continue progressing, but he knew going into Saturday’s game that LOA would be a difficult opponent to face.
“This is probably the first time since I've been here that I kind of knew going in that we might be under the radar,” Deep said. “They're good. They're solid.”
Fortunately for the Lady Lions, Saturday’s game won’t matter in the long run.
What matters is region play, which fired up this week with three scheduled region games.
This is the time of year for Westminster to adjust and improve, Deep said. He wants that to begin with greater physicality and better decision making.
“We've got to be more physical,” Deep said. “We've got to take better care of the ball and rebound. If you ask any coach at this point in time moving into region play, I guarantee they're going to have the same answer. You've got to value the ball. We were probably in the 30-turnover range. You can't win rec league doing that.”