There are two trains of thought with four weeks remaining until the real high school basketball season.
Schedule a cream puff or a cupcake and enjoy your just desserts, or welcome an opponent that forces you into one-too-many turnovers and end the day feeling a little queasy.
Scott County chose the latter route for the showcase game of its preseason hoopfest Saturday night.
The Lady Cardinals entertained another program that is a perennial contender for the KHSAA Sweet 16, and Simon Kenton’s Lady Pioneers dominated all but a short stretch at the end of the first half in a 67-46 win.
“We could have played someone who let us walk out of here with our chest out, or play them and be a little pouty,” SC coach Steve Helton said. “The measuring stick will be January when we play them again at the Toyota Classic. We’ll see where we’re at. They played well. They looked extremely good.”
Simon Kenton rained down 13 3-pointers, including five from Maggie Jones, who finished with a game-high 21 points. Mattie Vickers and Kady Schawe each added 13 points.
Morgan DeFoor led Scott County with 17 points, while Kenady Tompkins tallied 12. Together with 6-foot-4 Malea Williams, they’re the multi-talented, veteran presence on a Lady Cards’ roster that is otherwise almost new across the board.
“We’re not ready, but we don’t know how to practice. We practice like that, so that’s exactly what we expect,” Helton said. “I was hoping, there was this little glimmer, that when we got to game time we’d be ready, but we fell back. Some of them were scared to death, you could tell. They didn’t want the ball.”
Schawe and Jones nailed threes to cap an opening 8-0 run by Simon Kenton. That ballooned to 23-4 before SC settled in and closed the half with its own 25-14 binge.
Emma Price kept up the pace with a 3-pointer to get the Lady Cards within four, 38-34, early in the second half. Simon Kenton swiftly scored 13 of the next 15 points.
Price (five points), Kennon Owens (three). Kelsie Hall (two) and Tyra Young (one) were the only SC scorers aside from the big three.
“That gap is so huge. Some of the kids who have been through the battles, their frustration level is definitely high,” Helton said. “We were out of sync from start to finish. But we’re not going to give up.
“We’ve been here before. We could have played somebody where we wanted to feel good about ourselves, or we could play (Simon Kenton). Now if that happens again in January, I’m going to be a little more concerned.”
Scott County graduated only two starters, but they were Maaliya Owens, already an impact player at Tennessee Tech, and Juliette Smith, who had been the starting point guard since middle school.
DeFoor played the point three years ago when Smith was lost to a season-long knee injury. This time around, Helton is reluctant to revisit that tactic with his most explosive player.
“Nobody wants to handle the ball for us. We don’t have anybody (else) who had any intent of stepping up and running the point,” Helton said. “I don’t want Morgan DeFoor at point guard, because you can take a good point guard out of the game easier than you can take a wing.”
Helton didn’t take it any easier when planning the Lady Cards’ second and final scrimmage. SC will travel to Louisville Sacred Heart on Tuesday, Nov. 26.
“This ain’t our first rodeo. We’re going to figure it out. Now, we have a big hole to fill, because so much of what we do depends on that point guard,” Helton said. “But it’s Nov. 9. Alabama (football) may have played their way out of a playoff. We didn’t play our way out of anything. Ours didn’t count. We’re just figuring this out.”
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.