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As his team prepared for its first game without Braylee Henry, who died in June, Velma-Alma coach Jerry Garrett said he was as nervous as he was before coaching his first basketball game.
Through two quarters though, his team showed nerves of steel, until the second half started.
A 13-7 run by Rush Springs in the third quarter proved to be too much to overcome as the Lady Comets fell, 55-42.
“We didn’t play well, and when we did it was in spurts,” Garrett said. “We need to be more consistent than we were tonight. One defensive breakdown led to another and another. Rush Springs did a good job of pressing the ball and they deserve a lot of credit for that.”
After being tied at 27-27 going into halftime, Rush Springs went on a 7-2 run to take a 34-29 lead at the 4:09 mark of the third quarter.
V-A looked as though it was going to gain some momentum heading into the fourth as the Lady Comets scored five points near the end of the quarter, including a three-point buzzer beater by Teddi Southerland, which made the score 40-34.
“That was a big shot for us, and it cut the lead to six points,” Garrett said about the buzzer beater shot. “I thought we were going to go on a roll there. It was getting ugly in third and we were getting tired, which led to us missing some shots.”
Unfortunately, there was no spark in the fourth, as the Lady Redskins put the game away with clutch shots and timely defense.
Before the game, the Lady Comets sported new warm-up tops with buttons baring the image of their former Lady Comet teammate Braylee Henry.
“Play for Braylee” was the cry as the Lady Comets broke their huddle at mid-court before the game started.
V-A started strong, leading 6-0 at the 6:28 mark of the first quarter, before taking a 14-11 lead into the second quarter.
From the free throw line, the Lady Comets shot 14-of-29, while the Lady Redskins finished 5-of-11 from the charity stripe.
Leading the scoring for V-A (0-1) was Teddi Southerland with 13 points followed by Kylee Saville with 11 points. Samantha Moore and Bita Humphreys each scored six on the evening.
Rush Springs (2-0) was paced by Kaylin Rennaker who led all scorers with 23 points followed by Jacy Cullers with 17 points.
Tuesday night will see the Lady Comets on the road facing the Lady Indians of Comanche. Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. from Comanche.