BY ADAM GREENE
The chances were there for South Greene against Oakland Thursday night at Hal Henard Gymnasium. As the clock wound down, the shots just wouldn't fall and the Lady Rebels lost 54-47 to the Lady Patriots in the second round of the LandAir Ladies Classic.
"We're playing harder, but looking at the stats, we beat them in every area except the scoreboard," South Greene coach Stephen Gregg said. "We're challenging our kids to get in the gym and be better shooters. Our shooting percentage was just way too low (35.4 percent). Our effort was there, but late in the game we were looking for that big shot and it never happened."
South Greene (10-5) will face Wilson Central (5-7) today in the consolation bracket at 5:30 p.m. Oakland (11-0) remains perfect, but will have to fight to stay that way against C.A.K. (8-2) in the semifinals at 7 p.m.
The Lady Rebels were in it right down the final whistle. Javan Wilhoit gave South Greene its first lead of the second half with breakaway layup and foul with six minutes to go in the game. A three-pointer from Sylvia Barnes gave Oakland back the lead for good half a minute later.
The Lady Rebels had their chance to bounce right back, but a nearly five-minute stretch without a single point sealed their fate. In that span South Greene missed five shots and turned the ball over once.
"We had another time out left and we hoped that we could knock another one in so we could get them fired up and play a little harder man defense," Gregg said. "I'm proud of our effort tonight. I felt like we outplayed them even though we're undersized."
The game marked the return of Alora Ricker to the floor for the Lady Rebels and she made her presence known, scoring 15 points to lead the team. It was Ricker who finally ended the fourth quarter drought with a three-pointer to pull back within eight points.
"We weren't sure how the ankle was going to hold up, but she (Ricker) looked fine," Gregg said. "She's a very smart individual. She's like an extension of the coach on the floor. She's realized a lot sitting there with us over the last couple of games to where she can try to get that point across to the rest of her teammates. I think she was hungry to get in there tonight. Once we get her back (fully) in the mix, we'll get our chemistry back."
Ricker hit another three-pointer with a minute and a half to go, but South Greene couldn't build on it. Oakland finished the game at the free throw line.
Cheyenne Upton recorded a double-double for South Greene for the second consecutive game with 11 points and 14 rebounds.
"She (Upton) is one to emulate," Gregg said. "We tell our younger kids to go out there and copy the things that she does. If you can play as hard as she does, we'd have to use you on the floor. I can't fault her effort."
Wilhoit scored eight points and Ashton Wykle had six points. Maelyn Cutshaw grabbed six rebounds to go with her four points.
Barnes finished with 18 for the Lady Patriots and Ellen Riggins scored 13.