Pleasant Home defeats Opp

Published 7:41 pm Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Pleasant Home Lady Eagles kept their strong season going after beating Opp Thursday afternoon, 66-52, at PHS.

The Lady Eagles (7-1) led in the double digits throughout the game after the first quarter.

Pleasant Home’s Erin Byrd and Ariel Gunter led their team in scoring. Byrd had 20 points while Gunter put up 15.

Opp (5-5) could not come from behind against the Lady Eagles. Pleasant Home utilized its second-string offense and defense at the end of the second, third and fourth quarters to give players experience.

“I thought it was a great game,” Pleasant Home coach Kelley Garner said. “Both teams played hard and it was a real physical game. We got all nine of them out there. I got my three ninth graders some playing time. I was excited for that.

“I just thought they all hustled and played hard,” she said. “We really stepped it up and scored some big buckets when we needed to. It was just a fun and exciting game.”

Some of those big buckets came in the third and fourth quarters from Byrd and Gunter.

Garner said some of the positives she saw in Thursday’s game also came from the defense.

“I thought we looked pretty good on our defense starting out,” Garner said. “We were real aggressive. We held (Opp) to five points in the first quarter.

“We were real intense and aggressive on defense and that’s what I like and that’s what we preach. We also looked pretty good the first half on our man offense.”

Controlling the tempo in a game is key for any team and Garner said that is something the Lady Eagles try to do every game.

“Opp has a good team and I don’t know how many games they have won, but they have some good athletes,” Garner said. “If they stick to coach (Allison) Gregory’s game plan and keep working, she’s going to have a good team before the year’s over.”

For Opp, Gregory said it all came down to “inexperience.”

“I think that we looked good at moments and that our inexperience shines through at times,” Gregory said. “I think overall I’m very proud at the way we played. Out of my 14 players, 10 of them are seventh, eighth and ninth grade players.

“We had an eighth grader who had 11 rebounds, nine of them were offensive — this is only her third game as a varsity athlete,” she said.

Gregory said her team would be working on key aspects of the game in practice.

“We have a lot of improvements to work on,” Gregory said. “I think if we need to pinpoint one more thing, I think we just need to gain more experience.

“They’ve worked and come out with enthusiasm all the time, so I’m disappointed in our execution and that’s due to inexperience, but they’re coming out and working hard and trying to stay positive and doing what they need to do to get there,” she said.

Leading scorers for Opp were Mychal Drew with 18 points and Katelyn Mikel with 10 points.

Garner said Pleasant Home’s next opponent, Bethlehem (Fla.), would be another “test” for the girls.

“We had two good games with them last year,” Garner said. “We’re going to have to play well with them again. I think that we’re going to have to be ready for the challenge.

“Bethlehem is a rough and aggressive team,” she said. “They’re physical and it’s going to be another good test for us.”

Pleasant Home will host Bethlehem on Mon., Dec. 15 and tip off is at 4:30 p.m.