LAUREL HILL — Eight games into the season the Laurel Hill girls basketball team is still experiencing growing pains.
The Hoboes have been hit by injuries to key players and have had another player dismissed from the team.
Even with full roster and healthy team Laurel Hill would have had its hands full in Thursday's game with rival Paxton. Without the missing players the Hoboes could only hope the Bobcats would self-destruct.
It didn’t take long to realize the Bobcats wouldn’t be beating themselves.
Paxton used a full-court press defense to jump to a 26-4 first quarter lead on the way to a 61-19 District 1-1A win over the Hoboes.
Hobo coach Scott Varnum was quick to give credit to Paxton coach Steve Williams and the Bobcats for doing what they needed to for the win.
“We never beat the press,” he said. “We didn’t adjust to it. We’ve got some people in new positions that are not used to handling the ball and we just didn’t adjust to it.
“But give them credit. They are a very good team and very well coached. They had a game plan and came out and got after us and we didn’t handle it.”
It didn’t take long for the Bobcats (8-2, 5-0) to turn up the defensive pressure. Paxton employed the smothering defense from the opening tip and throughout the first quarter.
Emily Murray, who led all scores with 21 points, scored the first five points of the game for the Bobcats.
A 3-pointer by Bethany Neal, who finished the game with 17 points, stretched the Bobcat lead to 8-0 with 5:57 left in the first quarter.
Bridgett Zessin got the Hoboes (2-6, 1-5) on the scoreboard at the 5:35 mark in the first quarter but Laurel Hill scores were few and far between.
The only other Hobo basket of the first quarter was a score by Grace Reese with 3:32 left in the opening period. The Reese basket cut the Paxton lead to 15-4 and that’s as close as it would get the rest of the night.
Williams called off the defensive pressure in the second quarter, but the Bobcats still led 34-10 at the half.
Paxton flirted with the running clock that comes when a team is up by 35 points much of the second half. A Chrissy Currid basket with 3:34 left in the fourth quarter put the running clock into play.
Williams said it was important that the press work early for the Bobcats
“We started off fast and we made some shots,” he said. “If we can make some shots then we can pressure a little bit and that helps us.
“It’s one of those things if we don’t make shots and you get in the half-court situation with their two bigs (Griffin and Reese) and we are in trouble. I was really proud of the way we got out (to a fast start). We penetrated (the lane on the drive) and made the extra pass and we made baskets.”
Murray and Neal were the only players in the game with double figures.
Reese led the Hoboes with eight points and Griffin added four points.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524