The Meade County High School Ladywave Basketball team hosted the Hancock County Lady Hornets in their home opener on Jan. 15. Meade has adapted and refined their defensive play on the court, which Hancock Co. found out quickly when the game was underway. Meade came right out with their man-to-man press defense, getting in the faces of any Hancock player that touched the ball. Meade’s defense was very productive causing Hancock to hurry their passes, or take inaccurate shots, which allowed for Meade to either intercept the ball or grab the rebounds and transition of the offense.
“Back when I used to play, we would press all the time. That’s all we did. So, we are going to bring that style of Ladywave basketball back,” Head Coach Dina Hackert said of their press defense.
“We know we are going to have stretches where we might not score much, so if our defense can keep them from scoring also, then we can stay in the game. I thought we executed well tonight. Hancock is a rather good team, so I knew if we could just get up in their face, we could slow them down some.”
Hancock also came out in a man-to-man defense, but it didn’t take long for Meade’s offense to find the holes to hit the open player for the accurate shot. By the end of the first period, Meade was able to get out in front by only 3-points but was building momentum as they headed into the second. The second period is where Meade’s defense really began to give Hancock problems. Meade held Hancock to just eight points for the whole period. At the half, Meade had stretched their lead to 13 over Hancock as they headed to the locker rooms.
“We finally got a team we’ve been wanting to play, and to be able to come out here and do it on our home court is pretty amazing,” senior Dee Griffith said of the teams play. “All of us seniors have been paying together for a long time, so when we play like this, it’s fun. We enjoy playing press defense against teams like this. We know when we can press the gas, and when to left off.”
After the half, Hancock came out with a new game plan which helped them close the gap, but was still unable to stop Meade from scoring. Rather than try and dribble through Meade’s press, they used long passes up the court to get the ball passed half court. This allowed them to get the ball down low, but Meade would collapse on the ball, fighting for each rebound. At the end of the third Meade maintained their lead even though Hancock was able to outscore them.
At the beginning of the fourth, Hancock had closed to within 9-points, giving them a little added motivation. Hancock’s defense concentrated on shutting down senior Jenna Gallimore and eighth grader Payton Bradley. Hancock was able to catch Meade and tie the game with 5:30 left to play. Both teams would trade baskets back and forth until Meade would finally get a 3-point lead in the last minute off a pair of free throws from Griffith. With time running out, Hancock was forced to foul and take their chances at the free throw line. They had the right idea, but fouled the wrong person. Bradley would visit the free throw line five times, hitting the ones that counted the most, to give Meade the lead they needed to get their first win in their home opener.
“We let them back in a little bit at the end there, that game right there was a pressure cooker. I’m really proud of the way our girls executed the game plan, and our seniors are really stepping up, taking control of the game.” Hackert said of the game, “I think our kids responded really well tonight and did a nice job, especially when it counted. Like when PJ (Bradley) hit a big 3-point shot and made those free throws to ice the game for us at the end. She is really stepping up to help the team in so many intangible ways.”