Free bird

Published 12:03 am Saturday, February 2, 2013

Opp’s Laiken Free scored 17 points to help lead the Lady Bobcats to a 38-23 win over rival Andalusia Friday night. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Opp’s Laiken Free scored 17 points to help lead the Lady Bobcats to a 38-23 victory over rival Andalusia on Friday night.

Free, who normally finishes in double figures for OHS, stepped up big for her teammates, draining several perimeter shots to keep the game going at a good pace.

OHS coach SaRhonda Dickerson said Free did a good job of making sure everybody else played well around her.

Both teams got off to ugly starts, only scoring five points each in the first period.

Tylesha Malcolm and Shandricka Thompkins got the buckets for AHS, and Opp’s Asia Edwards and Free scored for the Lady Bobcats.

Free started the second period with her second 3-pointer of the night to give OHS an 8-5 lead.

Thompkins, who gives Andalusia a height advantage, was double-teamed the whole night, effectively taking her out of the game, and forcing the Lady Bulldogs to employ a bounce passing game.

Free scored another 3-pointer to give OHS a 11-5 lead with more than five minutes to go in the first half.

Andalusia’s Laticia Crittenden got a jumper and Johnson, a former Opp player, got a steal and layup on the other end to put the score at 11-9.

Savannah Gerber found Free later on under the bucket and and OHS led 13-9.

Opp’s Saquaya Lane scored four quick points and the Lady Bobcats led 17-11 at halftime.

Not much changed from the pace of the game in the third period, as Andalusia went on to outscored OHS 8-7, but still trailed 24-19 going into the fourth period.

Free scored four quick points to start the fourth, and Nisha Stoudemire finished up some drives with putbacks to give OHS a 31-21 lead going into the final stretch.

A problem for the Lady Bobcats Friday was not getting enough rebounds, Dickerson said.

“It was a very slow start,” she said. “We had a lot of turnovers. Luckily, the girls fought back and at the end they really corrected a lot of their mistakes.

“There was nobody boxing out,” she said about the rebounds. “That’s a lot of our problems — boxing out and turnovers.”

Lane chipped in 12 points to pace OHS.

Malcolm led Andalusia with nine points. Crittenden had six points.

Herring said the girls’ sights are set high and concentrated on next Thursday for the start of area tournament play.

“We didn’t overlook Opp,” she said. “We did some things trying to get ready for Opp. We worked on press-break because in the past, Opp has killed us at the front on the press. We had more bounce passes instead of passing over the top.”

Andalusia is back in action at Hillcrest-Evergreen on Thursday at 6 p.m., where it will face Monroe County.

Opp will face Southside Selma on Friday at 3:30 p.m.