Sug Parker knows that he has his work cut out for him this basketball season.
The girls head coach at Washington County is replacing four graduated seniors from a team that went 26-1 last season and has only three girls on the team who played big minutes last year.
That inexperience showed Saturday against a 9-0 Veterans team. The Warhawks rolled to a 45-31 win in the Middle Georgia Shootout held at Mercer’s Hawkins Arena.
“This was only our second game of the season, and playing a team that has eight games in already probably hurt us,” said Parker, whose team defeated Baldwin 55-43 on Dec. 6 in the season opener. “Here we are, coming off a good opening win and thinking we are pretty good, but then we come here and don’t play very well. I think this game will serve as a great early wake-up call, and come Monday we will get things back to the way they need to be.
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“This loss (Saturday) is all on me.”
Washington County jumped out to a 12-7 first-quarter lead on the strength of six points by Nia Johnson, but Veterans turned up the pressure in the second quarter and outscored the Golden Hawks 20-9 to take a 27-21 lead into halftime
The Warhawks were the aggressors, getting to the free-throw line often and taking advantage of that, hitting 11-of-13 free throws in the second quarter alone. Khalya Owens, who ended with 15 points and 11 rebounds, was a workhorse inside, getting to the line seven times and converting five of those.
Washington County, meanwhile, got to the free-throw line only five times in the first half.
Veterans continued to control the game with their pressure defense and held Washington County to only five points in the third quarter and only five more in the fourth quarter. The Warhawks pushed the lead to 12 at 38-26 on a basket by Kya Cochran, and Anna Nicholson, who ended the game with 11 points, delivered the dagger with a little more than three minutes left with a 3-pointer to push the lead to 43-26.
“We like to win basketball on the defensive side of the basketball court, and I thought we got another great effort in this game,” said Veterans head Coach Nicole Miranda, whose team won 55-32 at Baldwin on Friday. “The strength of this basketball team is in our depth and that allows us to pressure the basketball and be able to remain fresh when this was a quick turnaround from a road game (Friday) night. Anytime you can get a win over a program like Washington County, it’s a good day.”
Washington County struggled to convert from outside the entire game, hitting only 1-of-16 from 3-point range. The Golden Hawks were led by Johnson, who had 10 points.