By Thomas Sellers Jr.
When rebuilding a program, a head coach normally faces obstacles in the early stages of the project.
Brighton Lady Cardinals Head Coach Kent Cates is learning that in his first year in charge of the Tipton County program. Despite a solid first half and chances of making a comeback Friday night against the Hardin County Lady Tigers going in then out of the cylinder, Cates watched his team fall to their District 13-3A rival 41-31.
“We got some shots but it was a little forced at times,” Cates acknowledged. “We’ve been preaching patience all year. We have to continue to be patient.”
Brighton was patient in the first quarter on both ends of the court tying Hardin County at 9-9 after one period. Lady Cardinal senior Morgan Shaver scored 4 points including being on the receiving end of a pass from Alaina Bierdz.
Brighton had the lead most of the first quarter and led 11-9 in the second quarter. Then the Lady Tigers responded with a 8-0 run to build a 17-11 advantage.
Lady Cardinal senior McCallie Ruffin put an end to Brighton’s cool streak with a drive to the rim for two points. Then Ruffin stepped outside and nailed a baseline three-pointer to make the score 17-16.
To close out the first half, Hardin County tallied 6 points compared to a Bierdz foul shot to take a 23-17 lead into the locker room.
“On defense, we weren’t moving the way we should on defense,” Cated acknowledged. “We gave up some easy baskets and we couldn’t afford to. The first half killed us.
“We fouled their big girl and she hit her free throws,” he added. “She killed us in the first half. She probably attempted 10 or 12 of them and made almost all of them.”
Then in the third quarter the Lady Tigers outscored Brighton 7-2 in the first four minutes. Trailing 30-19, Bierdz ended her team’s drought with a three-pointer and the score was 30-22 heading into the fourth quarter.
In the final quarter, the Lady Cardinals made the score 36-39 after a pair of Lilly Hill free throws. But the Lady Tigers quickly rebuild the advantage back to 10 points and held on to win by that margin.
Cates said seeing his team shave 15-points off the deficit to Hardin County is a positive sign among the obstacles on their road of progress.
“We lost another starter this week in Teiona Lewis,” he said. “Every corner there’s been a little road block for us. We had a starter quit after the first few games, a senior leader. It’s just been a few road blocks. But I think our girls are getting better.
“When we went over there, they beat us by 25,” Cates concluded. “We’re looking for small victories right now. We’re looking to get better. And I think we’re getting better. We just keep fighting through these road block, eventually we’ll get ahead.”