By Garth Shanklin
To be the best, you have to beat the best, and West Clermont got quite the battle in the school’s first-ever girls’ basketball game on Saturday, Nov. 25.
The Lady Wolves traveled to Lakota West High School to take on Solon in the Journey to the Tourney, a game that saw the team face a pair of Division I-bound players. Regardless, West Clermont was in the game the entire 48 minutes, but a back-and-forth affair that came down to the wire didn’t go the Lady Wolves’ way in a 65-62 loss.
The first basket in school history came at the 6:25 mark of the first period on a floater in the lane by senior Jasmine Hale, who is committed to play next season at the University of Wisconsin. Her squad found themselves ahead 4-2 early in the first when Solon went on a run, taking an 11-7 lead. After another West Clermont basket cut the margin to two points, the Lady Comets finished the period on a 6-0 run that included a banked-in three-pointer from half-court as time expired. West Clermont trailed 17-9 after one.
Things looked to be going poorly to start the second period, as Solon extended their lead to 22-9 with 7:15 left in the half.
West Clermont answered, outscoring their foe 24-5 over the final seven minutes to take a 33-27 lead into halftime.
Again, Solon went on a huge run to start the third quarter, turning the six-point deficit into a 13-point lead.
West Clermont got back on track with a three-point play by Hale and a three-pointer by Kristen Click to cut the lead to four points. A Kaylin Burdick basket just before the end of the period put the Lady Wolves down 50-47 entering the final quarter.
Solon scored the first six points of the fourth quarter, and West Clermont answered with a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to a pair. Tied at 58, Solon began to hit free-throws, making seven of their final eight attempts to put the game away.
Alexis Starks led the Lady Wolves with 13 points. She also collected six rebounds. Jasmine Hale scored 12 points, while Dakota Reeves added nine. Click (eight) and Burdick (seven) also contributed offensively.
Solon was led by Florida State commit Valencia Myers, who scored a game-high 25 points and added 10 rebounds.
Lady Wolves head coach Jeff Click said the team knew they would be in for a battle, but the team just wasn’t consistent enough to win.
“We knew that they had some good players,” Click said. “They have a winning tradition. I still think we missed some opportunities. There were some first-game jitters, it took us a while to get comfortable. It looked like we still don’t really know what we’re trying to do offensively and defensively. First game, it happens.”
Click said the team’s inability to keep Myers in check was partly his fault, and partly due to the team’s foul situation.
“Some of that was on me,” Click said. “I thought we could do a better job, then we got in foul trouble. We didn’t adjust well. She’s good, she made some shots but we just got passive at times. It was weird.”
Click added the team’s lack of consistency could be traced to the different lineups on the court, something the squad has to get fixed before their next match.
“There were times where we played with a lot of confidence and we played fast, then there were times where we became really passive on both ends,” Click said. “We have to look at the tape, maybe it was certain lineups that happened with. We’ll have to get more comfortable and fix them.”
Despite the loss, Click said the team showed some positive traits as well, such as the ability to handle different pressures offensively.
“I think we showed that we have some length on the defensive end,” Click said. “They’re tough to guard, they have four guards on the defensive end. We disrupted them a bit with our length. Offensively, we finally did a better job handling the pressure when we get people moving. I told them we aren’t going to play perfect for 32 minutes, but that’s the goal. Tonight, we were probably at about half the time.”
The Lady Wolves return to the court on Saturday, Dec. 2 with a 10:20 a.m. contest against Kentucky’s Simon Kenton High School as part of the Hoops4Harvest event at Dixie Heights High School.