Despite an 11 point, five rebound and four block performance from sophomore Sydney Fields, the Rockdale County girls’ varsity basketball team dropped its season opener 79-53 at home to visiting Stephenson.
The Lady Jaguars turned Rockdale over 32 times in a turnover plagued contest, as the Lady Bulldogs fell behind by as much as 31 points in the second half.
Kerry Watson led Stephenson with 15 points, while Terrianna Cave added 14 for the Lady Jaguars in the route at Cleveland Stroud Gymnasium.
The Lady Jaguars’ pressure defense forced five Rockdale turnovers in the third quarter, extending their lead from eight at halftime to 19 heading into the fourth quarter.
“Some of the pressure did get to us a little bit tonight,” Rockdale coach Gladys King said. “We were able to break some of their pressure, but when they went full-court man-to-man we got rattled a little bit and that’s what made us commit a few turnovers.”
Leading 37-29 after halftime, Stephenson outscored Rockdale 23-12 in the third quarter to break open a close contest.
The Lady Jaguars held Rockdale scoreless for almost the first three minutes of the period before Brianna Patton knocked down a pair of free throws at the 5:19 mark to cut Stephenson’s advantage to 43-31.
Shelbi McKenzi and Watson added six points apiece to the Lady Jaguars’ total in the third quarter, with McKenzi extending Stephenson’s lead to 56-34 after dropping in a lay-up and forcing a Rockdale foul. McKenzi converted the ensuing free throw, as Stephenson went a perfect 5-for-5 at the charity stripe in the third.
Stephenson’s Sydney Saxton led the way for the Lady Jaguars in the fourth quarter with six points, extending Stephenson’s advantage to 79-48 with less than two minutes to go in the game. Rockdale knocked down the final five points in the quarter on a coast-to-coast lay-up from Shebreta Alexander and a 3-pointer from Jonai Jackson, but the Lady Jaguars’ defense was too much to overcome in the 26-point loss.
The Lady Bulldogs briefly led in the first quarter, going up 10-7 in the opening period on a Jackson 3-pointer, but Stephenson rallied back to take a 12-10 advantage on a 3-pointer with 2:12 to go in the quarter from Kayla Holmes.
The Lady Jaguars pushed their lead to as much as 10 in the second quarter, but Rockdale cut the halftime deficit to 37-29 with late back-to-back buckets in the second half from Destiny Stephens and a quarter-ending jumper from Fields.
King said that the Lady Bulldogs’ effort in the first half was what she needed to see from her players from here on out.
“I liked our effort in the first quarter,” King said. “In the first half we looked really good. We did what we needed to do, but we got down by a few baskets. After halftime, we didn’t do a good job of playing defense inside and they hurt us in the post. We didn’t do a good job of denying the post and helping on the weak side.”
Patton and Jackson both finished with 11 points in the loss, while Stephens ended the game with five rebounds.
The Lady Bulldogs return to action Nov. 30 on the road at Salem.