The Rowan County girls basketball team had fallen to 0-2 inside the 61st District after dropping a heartbreaking 57-54 game against Fleming County on Thursday.
The Lady Vikings had another quick turnaround in the district, playing Menifee County in a makeup game that was postponed due to weather.
So Friday’s game against the Lady Wildcats was considered a “must-win,” according to coach Jen Williams.
“We didn’t talk about that with the kids but I think they’re smart enough to know the situation we were in,” Williams said. “I felt more pressure to play hard but we tried to prepare for that game like we do for every game.”
Rowan would jump out to a quick lead and kept Menifee’s scoring touches at bay as the Lady Vikings defeated the Lady Wildcats 54-41 in Frenchburg.
After Thursday’s game, Williams was concerned with her team’s defensive intensity.
“I thought we played a terrible first half on Thursday defensively,” Williams said. “We were taking good shots but we weren’t knocking them down. Defensively we were a step slow giving them things that they wanted to do. We weren’t prepared.
“But we boxed out against Menifee, which was a big problem on Thursday. We did a great job rebounding and played a lot better defensively.”
One big emphasis for Friday’s game was limiting Menifee sophomore forward Ashton Woodard’s scoring touches. She was averaging 20 points a game but Rowan held her to just 10 points, and just two points in the first half.
“Hannah (Bandura) did a great job on her and our team did as well,” Williams said. “One thing I was impressed is, we drew three charges on her. Nicole Plank had two and Kara stepped in and took one as well.”
Junior Becca Duff scored a game-high 16 points in the win and Williams has noticed her increase in productivity in the past few games.
“I thought Becca had great offensive and defensive games in our last two games,” Williams said. “We asked her to step up and she responded by playing 31.5 minutes against Fleming and did the same thing against Menifee. She’s going to be a great shooter but now she’s adding to her game which is helping us win games.”
Senior Faith Conn added 10 points, Hannah Bandura had nine markers and Allyson Callahan contributed with eight points off the bench in the win.
To Rowan’s credit, they did not have a repeat performance of last year’s game in Frenchburg. The Lady Vikings lost to Menifee County 48-44 a year ago.
“It’s a tough place to play,” Williams said. “We were coming off a good game vs. East Carter and we got over confident and major letdown last year. Our kids remembered that from last season and did not want the same thing to happen again.”
Rowan County will host Russell Tuesday night in Morehead, a team that is 13-3 on the season. The Lady Vikings handed the Lady Devils their first loss of the season, a 46-45 decision in the EKC Tournament.
“Russell gives us a great game and they are playing well,” Williams said. “They have some scrappy guards and good shooter. There’s no doubt they’re playing with a lot of confidence and they’ll be motivated.”
MacKenzie Bates can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 784-4116.