Lady Bulldogs let first-quarter lead slip away

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The Roxboro Community School Lady Bulldogs got off to one of their hottest starts of the season on Tuesday, outscoring Henderson Collegiate 14-13 in the first quarter, but struggled the rest of the way, as the Pride outscored RCS 55-17 in the final three quarters, handing the Lady Bulldogs a 68-31 loss.

In the first quarter, Lady Bulldogs point guard Tori Bailey took charge, scoring 12 of her 21 points. Free throw shooting, an area that Bailey has struggled in at times this season, was not a problem, as the freshman knocked down six of her 10 attempts from the charity stripe in the opening quarter.

“She looked good shooting in the first half,” said RCS head coach Earl Bailey. “Before the game, I told her if you’re going to drive, just go up, take a breath and take your time, and knock them down.”

Sophomore Dulce Garcia scored her two points in the opening quarter. Known for being a valuable on-court presence off the bench for RCS, Garcia has now scored in two consecutive games.

“I want Dulce to be more confident going forward,” said Earl Bailey. “She’s not confident enough yet to take over a game – hesitancy keeps creeping in. She had a couple of steals. She kept trying to get the ball up the court, but turned it over. We need people off the bench like Dulce, or other scorers going forward.”

The game took a turn for the worse after the opening quarter. Henderson Collegiate outscored the Lady Bulldogs (3-10, 1-4) 12-2 in the second quarter, one in which RCS’ two points came from two Paige Melton free throws. The Lady Bulldogs kept turning the ball over, and when RCS had the ball, their players did not have the confidence to shoot, particularly in the paint. When the Lady Bulldogs got rebounds, their players looked to kick it back out to the perimeter, rather than go right back up for an easy two points. The Pride outscored RCS 17-8 in the third quarter, and eventually put the Lady Bulldogs away in the fourth quarter, outscoring RCS 26-7.

“After the first quarter, it was a whole lot of ball-watching,” said Earl Bailey. “Even though a lot of these girls are playing high school basketball for the first time, we’re not a young team anymore. That was our 14th game.”

Outside of games, Earl Bailey noted that his players need to be doing more if they want on-court results.

“A lot of times, I know they’re not working outside of practice. If your mind isn’t there mentally, your body won’t be there. If you don’t want to be coached like a robot, don’t play like a robot. You have to do the same thing every day, and you don’t master a skill until you keep doing it,” he said.

Earl Bailey also noted that if his players want better on-court results, they should look to Melton and Tori Bailey, the Lady Bulldogs’ two captains, and try to feed off of their energy and hustle.

“If I’m on the team with a hustler like Tori, I want that to transcend to me,” said Earl Bailey. “When I look at the other girls, they say what they want to do, but on the court, it doesn’t translate. As a coach, I can teach hustle plays and everything else, but I can’t teach effort.”

As the season goes on, Earl Bailey noted that if his players want to win more games, they need to start building upon what they know, in addition to putting in extra work.

“I don’t need everyone to get 20 points, but I need us to do the things we’re talking about doing. We have kids that want to shoot threes, but haven’t mastered the layup. If we want to get better, we need to work outside of practice.”

Led by Tory Bailey’s 21, Melton registered six points on the score sheet, while Garcia and freshman guard Adrianna Williams added two each.

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