By RICH KELLY
For the Star Beacon
A pair of programs heading into new territory under new coaches this season got things rolling Friday afternoon at the Harvey Tipoff Tournament. Reloading after graduation losses is also a common item among both Lakeside coach Dave Malone and Harvey coach John Sams.
The better of it went to Sams and his Red Raiders as they are blessed with the people to handle the ball and do the scoring, while the Dragons were missing a couple pieces needed to get the ball to their mainstays.
The edge in Harvey’s favor led to the host team’s convincing 48-24 triumph in the season opener for both teams.
Harvey is ahead of the game in having Mariah Pearson in the backcourt to provide points, and Amber Land to keep up defensive pressure out front and feed the ball to Pearson. Pearson tallied eight points to get the Red Raiders off to an 11-0 lead. She didn’t let up in putting home 12 for the opening quarter on her way to a game-high 31 markers.
“I think we should do pretty good in the CVC this year,” Sams said. “It’s nice to have a pair of guards like Mariah and Amber. Everybody knows Mariah is our scorer, but she works so hard to do so many things, it’s hard to shut her down completely. I could take Amber right out of practice and have her run 5-10 miles, she’s just so filled with energy that’s contagious.
“When you add in Brianna Jones inside, who is a great athlete and jumps well for inside work, we have a good core to work with.”
Lakeside is rebuilding in the backcourt. Cydnie Whetro did yeoman’s work in the game, but the Dragons missed their top two point guards, Sarah Morehouse and Kristin Keasling, who were both out of town. Their absence in the early part of the game proved a huge part to the Red Raider win.
Shelby Smith and Alexis Benedict led the Dragons in the posts, but getting the ball to them in the early going led to a rash of turnovers that Lakeside was not able to overcome.
“I think we may have had a case of the nerves in our first game,” Malone said. “We didn’t maintain our composure in the early part of the game, but I told the girls that for the first 6-7 games of the season, we will be getting to know each other on the floor and adjusting to what we want them to do. Our goal is to continually improve and get better.”
The turnovers, totaling 35 for Lakeside to just 11 for Harvey, accounts for the big difference in shot attempts. Harvey got off 60 tries, hitting just 19 of those efforts; the Dragons managed to put home just 11 of only 44 tries.
Lakeside had a solid edge on the boards, snaring 42 to just 29 for the Red Raiders, but getting second chances and making them count was a problem for Lakeside.
Smith led the Dragon effort with nine points and 10 rebounds to go with three blocks, and Benedict grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds.
Smith’s scoring effort led the way, but based on her passed efforts, Malone believes her production will improve.
“I really want to build up the girls’ confidence,” he said. “I’m looking for constant attitude and effort from the girls. It’s what we need to become a better team, and we did a great job today in working toward that goal. Cydnie did a nice job. She’s a solid athlete, and she’s only a sophomore. Brianna (Kingston) just found out Tuesday that she was going to be our point guard today, and I can’t say enough about how hard she worked.”
Pearson was a one-lady wrecking crew with her 31 points, and the effort defensively and on the boards was led by Thelma Pagan, who led her team’s rebounding total of 29 with eight to go with a pair of steals.
Lakeside will face Glenville today at noon for the consolation trophy of the tournament, and the Red Raiders will square off with the Riverside Beavers for the title in the second game.
Kelly is a freelance writer from Jefferson.