PARIS ROUNDUP: Lady Coyotes 'pesky' in 34-31 OT win vs Marion County

By Jeremy Jacob, Sports Editor
Posted 11/23/22

The opening night jitters were felt by Paris early in its home game Friday against Marion County, but the Lady Coyotes were cool down the stretch.

After going to overtime tied at 30, Paris …

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PARIS ROUNDUP: Lady Coyotes 'pesky' in 34-31 OT win vs Marion County

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The opening night jitters were felt by Paris early in its home game Friday against Marion County, but the Lady Coyotes were cool down the stretch.

After going to overtime tied at 30, Paris defeated reigning district champion Marion County 34-31 thanks to a game-winning steal by freshman Emma Ashenfelter and a clinching basket by Reese Sutton. Ashenfelter grabbed three rebounds and tallied six steals and five deflections to lead a tenacious defensive effort by the Lady Coyotes (1-0) that was propped up by a double-double from the freshman Sutton at 21 points and 12 rebounds and 11 rebounds from senior Rachel Shoemyer.

The game was about even all night, with Paris and Marion County (0-1) each coming up with rebounds or even knocking the ball out of bounds when two players made an equal effort for the board. The Lady Coyotes aren’t the best shooters, head coach Garrett Thomas said, but Ashenfelter and his girls did a great job of winning the game by making Marion County uncomfortable advancing the ball.

“Emma really did a good job being pesky,” Thomas said. “That’s a really good word for her is pesky. She gets in passing lanes well. She gets up, she’s aggressive, and she doesn’t have any quit. When you’re constantly up pressuring the ball, things are going to go right every once in a while. It really gave them fits at times.”

Through four quarters and an overtime period, Paris had seven field goals all night and relied on its trips to the free-throw line to pick up its points. The Lady Coyotes went 19-for-41 on free throws, driving to the rim and enticing Marion County to go into the penalty with minutes left in each half.

When Paris really needed to score from the field, it was able to convert, typically after forcing a turnover. Marion County’s Kennedy Hathaway hit a 3-pointer to help the Lady Mustangs build an 11-6 lead in the second quarter. The Lady Coyotes closed the half strong to take a 12-11 intermission lead, following Kennedy Ashenfelter receiving the pass from her sister Emma — unlike the exchange that happens between the pitcher Kennedy and catcher Emma during softball season.

“We kind of emphasize getting to the free-throw line so far this year,” Thomas said. “We’re not great shooters, but we shoot OK from the free-throw line usually. We try to get the ball inside as much as we can. When we get it in there, they usually like to collapse and that leads to them fouling a little bit more.”

Between the Paris and Marion County girls basketball teams, there is one senior on each team, making it easy for each team to be nervous for the first game of the season, Thomas said. He said the Lady Coyotes have dealt with inexperience the previous two seasons on top of this one and pointed out that the reigning district champion Lady Mustangs were missing six seniors this year, including all-state player Delaney Straus.

Sutton made a good first impression in her first high school game as she laid in five of Paris’ field goals. When Marion County appeared to be building some offensive momentum in the third quarter, the Lady Coyotes held them off by taking a 16-15 lead on a Sutton layup and maintaining a 19-18 lead after three quarters after Sutton free throws. With the score still knotted in the overtime period, Ashenfelter corralled a rebound and dished the layup to a trailing Sutton for the 33-31 lead with a minute left.

Thomas said two of his freshmen emerged when it mattered most, especially on that game-winning play.

“I was really impressed with some of the plays Emma made tonight despite being a freshman,” Thomas said.

“Reese is a force inside. What’s cool about Reese is she doesn’t quite know what her potential is yet. We’re trying to get her the ball in spots where we think she can shoot. I thought she had a really big night tonight with the potential to have an even bigger night.”

Boys basketball

Paris boys more effective inside in 43-31 victory against Marion County

The Paris boys’ offense felt locked out early Friday night at home in its opener against Marion County but eventually locked down to a decisive victory.

The Coyotes outscored Marion County 11-4 in the third quarter and 22-15 in the second half to win 43-31, reaching half their win total from a year ago by notching the first victory two months sooner this time around. Eight Coyotes each pulled down a rebound with Walter Rucker leading the way with 13 rebounds as part of his 16-point double-double. Colton Poddany followed with nine rebounds along with his nine points, the 6-foot-7 Alex Williams had three boards with eight points and point guard Evan Smothers had five rebounds on his stat line of seven points, four assists and one steal.

Early in the game, head coach Jeremy Skinner said the Coyotes were excited, perhaps a little too excited, as they committed several turnovers to allow Marion County to take a 9-4 with about two minutes left in the first quarter. Three turnovers in as many trips and five that early in the game made Paris flip the switch, or perhaps the screen.

“We made a little change on offense — screen across with the post players,” Skinner said. “That got us a couple easy buckets. Our spacing wasn’t very good, we tried to force it too quick and we had post players posting up on top of each other with no space. Everybody was following the ball instead of keeping space.”

Bucket after bucket to Williams and Poddany and then from Ryan Breid on an inbounds pass to Smothers gave Paris a 14-9 lead with six minutes left in the second quarter. Rucker galloped down the floor for three baskets near the end of the first half to finish with eight points after two quarters.

The Coyotes widened their lead in the third quarter, holding the Mustangs without any points until Porter Britt converted in the final two minutes, but it was 32-20 Paris following three quarters. Smothers positioned himself in front of an inbound pass and laid in the bucket in the final seconds of the quarter, demonstrating what Skinner believes Paris did so well on the defensive end.

“It all came down to our defense at the start of that third quarter,” Skinner said. “We just communicated. We switched on the screens, made sure we bumped the screens and we quit following them to the basket. We got in between them and the basket whenever they cut. Without their penetration, if you don’t follow the screens, they’re going to have trouble scoring. They’re a good 3-point shooting team so as long as you stay up on them, you can negate that.”

Rucker continued to glide seemingly effortlessly through the air as he was on the receiving end of a lob from Smothers to make it 34-23 with three minutes left in the game. He shot through the air whenever he rebounded the ball and the size of the other Paris post players ended Marion County offensive possessions abruptly by snagging the rebound.

Skinner said the Coyotes’ defensive rebounding tailed off in the fourth quarter because the group that built the third-quarter lead grew weary as they stayed on the floor in the fourth quarter. Still, it was an overall dominant night on the boards that Skinner expected them to have.

“For the most part, we owned the boards, which we should,” Skinner said. “We’re a lot bigger than that team. If we can’t outrebound this team, then we are in a lot of trouble. Even though they work hard and made it tough on us, we should still own the glass against this team.”

Paris’ first win last season was a 60-50 victory on Jan. 21 at Community R-6 so Skinner said he’s glad the boys have a win to enjoy early this season.

“I’m happy for them because they can get that feeling a lot earlier than we did last year,” Skinner said. “Hopefully it’s a sign of good things to come.”

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