By T. Scott Boatright
Ruston High School’s girls basketball is all about the basics — and that starts with fundamentals and defense.
The Lady Bearcats took care of those basics on Tuesday night in a 47-33 home win over West Monroe at the RHS Main Gym.
Ruston didn’t start off strong, leading only 11-8 at the end of the opening stanza.
But the Lady Bearcats picked up the offensive pace in the second quarter, outscoring West Monroe 14-8 in the stanza to build a 26-16 lead by halftime.
“West Monroe is capable of getting hot and that’s where people don’t always appreciate what they’re capable of,” said RHS coach Meredith Graf. “You have to respect it because I know how talented they are, especially from the perimeter. They can go off at any point.”
So Graf made sure her team kept up the defensive pressure, holding West Monroe to no more than a high of nine points, which the Lady Rebels scored in the third quarter.
“To hold people under 40 (points) per game is our team goal,” Graf said. “If we are able to do that, there have not been many times that we’ve lost. It’s just the basics of closing out hard, responding and communicating. It’s not some magical formula. It’s very simple. It’s doing the right thing with the fundamentals of basketball.”
Jaliyah McWain and Emerald Park led the Lady Bearcats with nine points each while Zacchyea Jackson and LaMarcyah Parker added eight points apiece for Ruston.
“Looking at stats says two things to me — unselfish and deep,” Graf said. “To me that’s one of the most important things about this team. Because every night we have someone step up and bring eight to 12 points, and we don’t know— and the opposition doesn’t know – who it’s going to be.
“Everybody else just kind of sprinkles in and all of those points matter. When everybody shares the ball, it helps everything. It doesn’t matter if it’s offense or defense. So I’m very pleased with how we’re playing overall.”
Not that Graf saw perfection from her team.
“It wasn’t very pretty — we were kind of ugly on some things,” Graf said. “But give credit to West Monroe. They’ve got a good team and they did some good things.”
Next up for the Lady Bearcats will be a road game at West Ouachita on Friday followed by a home game against Cedar Creek on Monday.
“We’ve got West Ouachita on Friday and that will be the halfway point of the district season,” Graf said. “Anybody can beat anybody on a given night. We just have to focus on each game at hand, one at a time. And with this team, it all starts with defense and sharing the ball. If we do that, we should have a chance to win every game we play.”
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