By Lori Brown
MONTICELLO January 29, 2008 James I. O’Neill took an early lead and never looked back against host Monticello in Friday night’s non-league girls’ basketball game.
The Lady Raiders outscored Monticello 14-6 in the first quarter en route to a 49-35 victory.
O’Neill’s Tiana Taylor swished a 3-point shot only 15 seconds into the game to give her team a lead it would not relinquish for the rest of the evening.
Senior center Allison McKearn scored seven points in the opening quarter to propel the Lady Raiders to their aforementioned 14-6 advantage.
However, Monticello (1-9) came out strong in the beginning of the second quarter. Jasmine Moore and Polly Palhano each scored a basket to bring the Lady Panthers to within four points at 14-10.
Following a timeout, O’Neill’s Taylor and Caroline Cannon both swished a 3-pointer to push their team’s advantage to double figures (20-10).
The Lady Raiders outscored Monticello 13-6 during the remainder of the frame to take a 33-16 halftime lead.
The Lady Panthers tried to reduce their deficit early in the third quarter. Moore netted a basket and then quickly made a steal to score another two points. Kéarya Sanders also swished a shot for the Monties.
But in the final 1:40 of the stanza, O’Neill (7-5) went on an 8-0 scoring run.
As a result, the Lady Raiders entered the fourth period with a 45-24 advantage.
Cannon scored a game-high 15 points and McKearn netted nine points to lead the Lady Raiders to the win. Cannon scored 14 of her points in the second quarter.
“We were aggressive on the offense and got some shots off, but instead of controlling it, we were forced into turnovers,” O’Neill Coach Kevin Schoepfer said.
“We like to go with our own tempo, but a lot of times we did not,” he continued. “We were unable to do what the game plan was because Monticello pressed us. We did not correctly do the press break during the game, which caused us to have 12 turnovers.
“We haven’t played a game in 10 days so we were a little rusty,” Schoepfer added.
Moore was Monticello’s top scorer with 16 points. She also recorded 12 rebounds and eight steals.
Also contributing for the Lady Panthers were Polly Palhano, who had eight rebounds and three steals, and Nyoki Tate, who grabbed six rebounds, made six steals and dished out three assists.
Monticello Coach Karen Atack noted that her team “did not play smart defense” and that the squad’s chemistry “was not there.
“It has been a rough week as the Regents [exams] are going on,” she added. “We did not look pretty; we made dribbling and passing errors. We should be much better during this part of the season.”
Atack said that Moore “did a great job, but had a lot of turnovers.
“She does not have control over her speed, although her hustle, effort and will is there,” Atack commented.
“Our goal is to get better fundamentally,” Atack continued. “We will continue to practice and drill. These players never gave up [tonight] and I truly believe they are trying.”