Turnovers prove costly for Sand Rock girls in season-ending basketball loss to Ider

Sand Rock’s Katelyn St.Clair drives to the basket against Ider in the Class 2A Girls Northeast Regional semifinal on Friday at Pete Mathews Coliseum in Jacksonville. Photo by Shannon Dagan.

By Shannon Fagan, WEIS Sports Director

JACKSONVILLE – It had been four years since a Sand Rock girls basketball team set foot on the Pete Mathews Coliseum floor at the Northeast Regional Tournament in Jacksonville.

With the exception of senior shooting guard Katelyn St.Clair, none of the other Lady Wildcats had meaningful regional playing experience.

It was quite the opposite scenario for the Ider Lady Hornets. They were making their second straight regional appearance.

On Friday, the more experienced team won out.

Aubrey Chapman netted 19 points, including four 3-pointers, and Kenzie Smith added 18 to lift No. 7 Ider past eighth-ranked Sand Rock 63-51 in the Class 2A regional semifinals. The Lady Hornets (19-11) advance to play Pisgah in the regional final on Wednesday. Sand Rock’s season ends at 25-7.

“I’m disappointed,” Sand Rock coach Lisa Bates said. “I thought we would do better than what we did. I felt like we did not perform like we could have under pressure. We weren’t just happy to be here. We were trying to win. I’m glad we got here again, but it’s not a good feeling right now. I feel like we could’ve done better. We played a little scared and not as aggressively on offense as we should have.”

The two things that did Sand Rock in were turnovers and 3-pointers – two stats that are usually in their favor on most nights.

The Lady Wildcats committed 23 miscues, while Ider only had nine. The Lady Hornets also connected on nine 3-pointers. Sand Rock sank just two treys in the game.

“I felt like we were trying to get rid of the ball too early. We wouldn’t let plays develop,” Bates said. “We were trying too much to get it in Katelyn (St.Clair’s) hands instead of others doing what they know how to do. I felt like that turned into turnovers for us that shouldn’t have. We were trying to get rid of it too early instead of being confident with the ball and doing what we can do.

“Things we had worked on all week, we looked like deer in headlights. I’m disappointed in that mental part of our game. I feel like mentally I didn’t have them prepared enough for the big stage.”

Ider jumped out to a 19-9 lead in the first quarter, but once the Lady Wildcats settled down, they began to play their game a little more. They managed to tie the game at 25 with 2:43 remaining in the first half on a basket-and-one by St.Clair. Ider, however, recovered to close out the half on a 5-0 run and take a 30-25 advantage.

Chapman sank three of her four treys in the early stages of the third quarter, stretching the Lady Hornet lead to 10.

Sand Rock never recovered from that point.

St.Clair led the Lady Wildcats with 19 points. Kennedy Henderson had 14 points and eight rebounds. Chloe Stephens added seven points and Zoey Handy finished with six points.

Addisyn Heard and Makinley Traylor both finished with eight points for Ider.

The game marked the end of eight Sand Rock seniors’ basketball careers. Those eight were St.Clair, Handy, Henderson, Stephens, Brylaina Holcomb, Amber Day, Lydia East and Allie Stansell.

“These seniors have set the standard,” Bates said. “I asked the younger ones if they had anything they wanted to say to the seniors (after the game), and they just told them thank you for giving us something to look up to and something to strive for.

“Some of them don’t get much playing time, but they all have roles on this team that are huge. They come to practice every day and work just as hard. They don’t complain and fuss about playing time. They support the girls who are on the floor. I think that chemistry and that effort all around is what makes Sand Rock a special place.”

Sand Rock’s Kennedy Henderson connects on a basket against Ider on Friday. Photo by Shannon Fagan.
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