The Mineral County High girl’s basketball team hit a snag last week on a journey it hopes will end in the playoffs.
When the Lady Serpents suited up against Pyramid Lake, they expected a hard fought contest followed by a pair of easy wins. But nothing seemed to go as planned, and the Serpents went on with just one victory.
The squad from Hawthorne fell first against the Lady Lakers, 40-29, then traveled to Coleville where the Lady Wolves dealt them a stunning defeat, by a score of 30-24. The Lady Serpents were back in action on Saturday, when they rallied and easily defeated the Sage Ridge Scorpions, 47-12.
“We’re still struggling as a team trying to get the ball into the basket,” said Foster Kenton, Lady Serpents coach. “We’re missing a lot of baskets. That’s just been a continuous thing. Hopefully that slump that we have there will break away sometimes soon.”
The shooting woes are starting to effect the Lady Serpents’ game in other ways.
“It seems like we don’t have the confidence now and it’s affecting our defense, its running through our offenses and our overall play” said Kelsey Viani-Whittwer, Lady Serpents’ senior. “We’re just not running as smoothly without the confidence. It’s like we don’t feel we’re getting anything through running the offenses so we just kinda stand around and we don’t look like we know the game.”
Viani-Whittwer said her shooting has also suffered, and she’s struggling to figure out why.
“Maybe I’m just stressed from finals, and maybe it will all go away,” she said.
It was against the Lady Lakers Kenton said he saw the first signs of trouble. The aggressive Mineral County defense was able to make stops and turnovers, but the turnovers didn’t lead to baskets.
“We had six more steals [than the Lady Lakers], but we could not capitalize on those steals,” Kenton said. “Other than that, it was a good game, despite the score.”
Kenton said Pyramid Lake was a weak team last year that recruited several talented players.
“That was our plan coming into the game, to try and contain them,” Kenton said of the especially talented Lady Lakers. “We knew they were going to get their points, but we didn’t want them to get easy points.”
The Lady Lakers also boast a strong bench, which Kenton said the Lady Serpents lack, and the strong second string told the tale.
“We had our opportunities, we had our shots, the offense was there, we just missed our shots,” Kenton said. “We’re working hard in practice with a lot of shooting too, but it just hasn’t carried over to the game. Hopefully that will come soon.”
Kenton said he wasn’t expecting a challenge in Coleville and didn’t consider the team much of a challenge for his ladies.
“Every aspect of our game was not there that night,” Kenton said. “Defense was sluggish, offense was really sluggish. We could not put the ball in the basket again, we missed a lot of open shots.
“We just had no motivation. It just wasn’t there that night.”
But even the sluggish Mineral County defense was able to outplay the Wolves. Kenton said the Lady Serpents had “a lot” more steals than their opponents, but were once again unable to capitalize.
“We force an average of 10 steals a game, but we’re not taking advantage of our steals,” he said.
After the game Ivy Maar of the JV team was awarded the sportsmanship award.
Against the Scorpions, however, the Lady Serpents were back in form. The defense was strong, the team ran its offense easily, and the players were visibly excited to be back on the court.
“It was a good night to execute the offense and get some of my younger girls some playing time,” Kenton said.
But even after a pair of tough losses, Kenton is still concerned about the mental state of his team, and its confidence.
“That particular win, I would say [wont help rebuild confidence] because its not against a contender,” he said. “Our mental state seems to be the same. […] The mindset about winning isn’t where I want it to be.”
The mental issue are a concern for Kenton, but he’s more concerned about his squad’s ability to make baskets.
“The bottom line is we still get our open shots, we still play defense, start turn overs, get steals, but we’re still not putting the ball into the basket,” Kenton said.