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The Suburbanite
  • Fouls plague already struggling Tigers

  • For a team operating on a razor-thin margin created by injuries and inexperience, the words “foul trouble” are enough to strike fear into any coach.

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  • For a team operating on a razor-thin margin created by injuries and inexperience, the words “foul trouble” are enough to strike fear into any coach.
    The Lake Center Christian Tigers are such a team, coping with injuries and a roster full of underclassmen being asked to take up the burden and fill the void created by the now-regular sight of starters on the bench in street clothes with serious injuries. Stir in an overwhelming quantity of foul trouble, and the result was a 48-29 road loss to a physical, experienced Dalton team that was aggressive from the opening tip.
    With their rotation trimmed down to one senior and freshmen and sophomores comprising a larger chunk of the rotation than first-year coach Paul Zacour would have hoped prior to the season, the Tigers (0-9) found themselves facing a nightmare scenario as three of their starters accrued three fouls each before halftime. With senior guard Olivia Myers, sophomore forward Lauren Penvose and freshman guard Brianna Miller all two fouls from automatic disqualification before the halftime buzzer had even sounded, Zacour had no choice but to sit all three for the remainder of the second quarter.
    Miller’s absence was especially problematic, because with sophomore point guard Kelsey Raymondi still out for the fourth consecutive game with a knee injury suffered Dec. 15 against Sandy Valley, the lanky freshman has become LCCS’ primary ball handler. With Miller, Penvose and Myers out, Zacour turned
    to the trio of freshman Andrea Wyder, junior Brittany Raines and sophomore Ciera Edwards, all seeing their first varsity action.
    They were asked to step in and keep their team close in the latter stages of the first half and were actually on the court when the tide began to turn slightly in the Tigers’ favor.
    Using the foul disparity to their advantage, Dalton led 15-7 after one quarter and extended their lead to 31-13 at intermission.
    Although they were never able to mount a serious threat, the Tigers upped their level of aggression after the
    Bulldogs (5-4) took the fight to them early on.
    “Early on, we were reaching, not moving our feet. Dalton came out and they were more aggressive, and the officials usually cater to the more aggressive team,” Zacour said. “Early on, we had a lot of slaps and reaches, but later on, when we were more aggressive, the fouls evened out.”
    Despite the increased aggression for LCCS, the foul trouble in the first half and the necessity of subbing in inexperienced players left the coaching staff with no choice but to drastically scale back their offense to its most basic tenets in order to make Wyder, Raines and Edwards more comfortable and not overwhelm them.
    “We were in our most basic stuff, just trying to run our basic motion offense and make our cuts,” Zacour said. “But I thought they did a pretty good job of competing, and the girls all played much better in the second half. I was proud of how our young girls played.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Miller led LCCS with 10 points, with freshman guard Kaylee Serdinak adding eight and Penvose five.
    Mary Briceland led Dalton with 18 points and nine rebounds, pacing her team to a 28-21 edge on the glass. Morgan Merriman also had 18 for the hosts, who shot 37.2 percent (19-of-51) from the field and forced 25 LCCS turnovers while committing just 12 of their own.
    The loss left LCCS one game short of the halfway mark for the season and still without its first win, but the coaching staff is making sure that players do not lose sight of the bigger picture. Zacour pointed to time spent in film sessions showing the players how much progress they have made since their first game as one way he has tried to make sure his team remembers the season is a process, not a single defeat.
    To make sure that message is reinforced, he has also turned to his ijnured players, specifically senior Melanie Harvey and juniors DeShawna Sommers and Amanda Floyd, and challenged them to step up and take on more of a leadership role as upperclassmen even though none of the three has played yet this season.
    “I’ve gotten on them that they need to be more of leaders,” Zacour said. “It’s definitely an uncomfortable situation where you’re not playing and don’t want to over step your bounds, but I sat them down and said, ‘You’re upperclassmen, you need to step up and be leaders.’ ”