By Thomas Sellers Jr.
MEMPHIS — It’s no secret that the 2015-16 Tipton-Rosemark Academy Lady Rebels are young.
Head Coach Keith Cox’s roster features four sophomores, three freshmen and a pair of eighth graders. The senior trio of Brooke Bridges, Taylor Beasley and Ally Naifeh prepared themselves for the role of leaders on and off the court.
The on-the-court leadership reaped some rewards Dec. 1 on the court of the FACS Lady Crusaders. The Lady Rebels used the hot shooting of eighth graders Megan Sanfratello and Abby West to produce a 54-37 victory over FACS.
“We started off the season 1-4 so far,” Naifeh said. “To get this win really gives a boost off to our week. We have one more game this week. So hopefully we can come out with a win there.
“They (the eighth graders) really changed the game for us,” she added. “We couldn’t have made it through this season without our two eighth graders and our freshmen. Having them has helped us tremendously in the season.”
The game was deadlock at 5-5 in the first quarter against the Lady Crusaders. Bridges broke the tie with a three-pointer. That shot sparked a 10-0 run for the Lady Rebels to close out the opening period.
Naifeh contributed a three-point play that made the score 11-5. Then sophomore guard Brittany Hall drove to the rim for a layup. Sanfratello closed out the first quarter with a steal leading to a bucket putting TRA ahead 15-5.
The Lady Rebels outscored FACS 12-7 in the second quarter with points from sophomores like Kallie Alexander, Emily Fisher and Hall. Sanfratello had 7 points in the period draining a three-pointer and scoring twice in the paint.
“My confidence grew tonight,” she said. “My Coach says I have to shoot to get hot. I just started making threes tonight.”
TRA’s 27-12 halftime advantage grew to 48-25 after the third quarter. Sanfratello’s classmate West led the way with 8 points in the period.
West scored the first 4 points of the third to make the tally 33-16. After a Naifeh jumper, Hall continued to produce points the way she had the whole night. Hall made another layup after another steal of a Lady Crusader guard to make the score 37-16.
After two more West buckets, freshman Emily West made a pair of foul shots to make the tally 45-20. The third quarter concluded with a familiar highlight. Hall stole the ball and race to the rim for two points.
TRA nursed its huge advantage in the fourth quarter. Lady Crusader standout junior guard Bionka Massie tried to lead her team back. FACS went on a 11-5 run sparked by Massie to make the score 50-36. But a pair of West baskets ended any hopes of a Lady Crusader comeback.
Naifeh said the win was a reward for the hard work all the Lady Rebels have put in since the beginning of the season. Sanfratello said the FACS game was another chance for the younger players to learn from their senior trio.
“I’m watching Ally and communication so that when I get older I’ll be able to lead the team like she does,” she said. “Taylor, she takes good shots. And she knows where everybody is on the court. I pay attention to that. Brooke I watch her moving around and getting screens. I’m learning by example.
Naifeh said she will also continue to teach verbally as well.
“Communication because they’re really too young to talk,” she concluded. “Communicating with them and having confidence in them letting them know we need them. Let them know we can’t do this without them.”