“They just had to get the butterflies out of their system. They practiced the same thing and we kept it simple ... but the game got out of hand early and that was the difference. Then some of the girls started clicking and got it together. They’ve got it in them, they just need to support each other and do their jobs. They’ll be all right,” said DeSoto County JV girls basketball coach Jerome Rudolph.

Rudolph was right, on all counts. They do have some players with improving skills and looked better than most JV teams in their first game of the season. Junior Varsity girls basketball teams are the ones that I usually see making the most improvement over the course of the season, and this team already has shown some flashes of looking like a team in mid-season.

Sophomore Melissa Merlo took a pass and dribbled it a few yards and stopped and pumped it through the net in the opening seconds of the game to give the Bulldogs a short lived 2-0 lead. Everything went down hill from there. Lemon Bay got on a 21-point run to end the first period with a 21-2 lead and essentially ended the game there.

The second period saw a much better Bulldog team, as they were outscored just 9-8. That big first period gave the Mantas a 30-10 lead at the break.

The second half started much like the first, with the Mantas dominating, outscoring DeSoto 14-1 to take a comfortable 33-point lead going into the final six minutes. After a 14-0 run to begin the second half, the Bulldogs got their only point on a freethrow by Tylonda Evans with 12 seconds left to play.

Just like the first half, the Bulldogs got started late and looked good in the fourth quarter as they outscored the Mantas 18-8. However, it was too little too late as they suffered a 52-29 season opening loss.

Why the big difference in the final period, as compared to the first three periods? The Bulldogs scored 18 points in the final period and only 11 in the first three periods combined.

All you have to do is look at one facet of the game to see why they got beaten so badly and what they need to work on the most. TURNOVERS. The Lady Bulldogs committed six of them in the first two minutes of the game and 18 total in the first period. That is the kind of number that would make a coach cringe for a whole game, let alone just a quarter!

The second period they cut the turnover number down to 11, and improved to just 10 in the third period. It is hard to score points if you can’t take a shot. If a team can’t get the ball past midcourt, a team isn’t going to get many shots.

As the Bulldogs averaged 13 turnovers per period, they scored just 11 points. In the final period the Bulldogs had just five turnovers and scored 18 points. You don’t need to be a Hall of Fame coach to see where the problem lies.

With more practice and games, that number will drop through the upcoming season, and you will be surprised at the improvement this team will make.

Sympany Hillard committed four fouls in the first period but managed to stay clean for the rest of the game. Merlo fouled out in the fourth quarter after scoring eight points in the game.

After Merlo left the game, Evans really stepped up her game, scoring nine of her team-high 12 points in the fourth period. Evans also went 8-18 from the charity stripe. Brittany Omar scored five points in the loss.


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