Despite a strong second half, the John Milledge Academy Lady Trojans lost in overtime to the Westfield Lady Hornets 73-66, and struggles on offense proved costly for the Trojans, as they lost to the Hornets 40-28.

“You score 66 points and get beat,” said head coach Lori Hines. “It’s kind of shocking.”

The Lady Trojans got off to a slow start, giving up 22 points in the first quarter. Hines said that the Lady Trojans ran their offense well, but made too many mental errors.

“We gave up way too many points in transition,” Hines said. “I feel that we are a faster team than them, so that’s all just mental.”

The Lady Trojans settled down in the second quarter, only allowing 11 points and a late run allowed them to go into halftime trailing the Lady Hornets 33-24.

Hines said that during halftime she told the team that they had to get focused and play like they know how.

“I told them to get your man, guard you man and block your man out and just play basketball,” Hines said.

The Lady Trojans took their coach’s advice and battled back in the third quarter, slowly chipping away at the Lady Hornet’s lead. A 3-pointer by Crystal Bazemore tied the game 43-43 and the Lady Trojans trailed 49-47 at the end of the third quarter.

JMA stayed within a basket of the Lady Hornets in the fourth quarter until a free throw by Haley Dunn gave the Lady Trojans their first lead of the game. But they could not stay ahead as Westfield took a 64-62 lead.

Bazemore then hit another game-tying shot with three seconds left in the game to send the game into overtime.

Costly turnovers and missed shots in overtime ended the game for the Lady Trojans as the Lady Hornets grabbed the lead and held on for the win.

Leading the way for the Lady Trojans was Dunn who scored 16 points, Lindsey Simons who scored 14, M.A. Linch who had 13 points and Bazemore added 12 points.

“You have four people in double digits and you still lose,” Hines said. “I don’t know what else to do.”

Hines was pleased with the way her team never gave up, but said that they are going to have to learn to take the season one game at a time.

“I think we played very physical, but I think we are still trying to carry over what worked for us in the last game instead of taking every game as every game,” she said. “That’s something that mentally we are going to have to adjust to, but we are trying to learn from every game and are continuing to grow.”

Despite the loss, Hines said that there were very valuable lessons that her team learned during the game that will benefit them as they move deeper into the season.

“Although this one did not turn out the way we wanted, the overtime experience is good,” Hines said. “That way they are not in shock when we are in an overtime game later. We also learned that there are going to be runs. People are going to get up and people are going to get down.”

Hines said she felt good about how her players continued to fight no matter how many points they were down.

“We played hard,” Hines said. “That’s one thing about this group – they are not going to give up and they are going to play hard.”

The Trojans looked good early, getting off to a 6-0 lead, but could not keep up the offensive output. The Hornets fought back and tied the game 12-12 at the end of the first quarter.

The Trojans’ offense continued to struggle in the second and third quarters, as they scored only four points in each.

The offense came on stronger in the fourth quarter, with the Trojans scoring eight points, but it was not enough to get them back into the game.

“I was pleased with the defensive effort,” said head coach Adam Lord. “The guys played hard and we held them to 40 points. I’m not satisfied with the way things turned out and I’m upset with the offense’s end of it.”

Lord said that the problem was not the execution of the offensive scheme, but poor shooting by the team.

“We’ve got to get better knocking down our shots,” Lord said. “We got open looks. We had guys coming off of picks with open shots. From 12 feet you’ve got to be able to put the ball in the hole. We didn’t do that.”

Lord said that the team will spend the next couple of days focusing on offense.

“Tomorrow and Thursday we are going to come in and do a lot of shooting drills,” Lord said. “We are going to have a lot of guys work on shooting at game speed. You can shoot out in the backyard all day, but coming off of a pick and shooting with a hand in your face is different.”

Lord said that he implemented a different defense to counter the Hornets’ speed and was pleased with how the Trojans handled the faster Hornets.

“We played good defense,” Lord said. “We had a different game plan coming in. We didn’t want to put as much pressure up top because they are so much quicker. We wanted to make them run through something. They did a good job of that.”

Down in the fourth quarter, the Trojans had to change their defensive scheme to try and force the Hornets to put the ball in play, but the Hornets were able to use their speed to get easy baskets.

“Late in the game we got down by 12 and we tried to come out with pressure and they did exactly what I thought they would do and ran right by us and laid it up,” Lord said.

He said that the experience from this game will help his team prepare as they get ready to begin their region games.

“I felt that we could compete with that team,” Lord said. “We match up pretty well. They play man-to-man, which is what teams in our region are going to do. I told my guys that this is a good test of what we are going to see down the road we’ve just got to execute a little better.”

Although the offense struggled, Lord said that it was not because of a lack of effort by his players.

“I thought they gave a good effort and that is all I can ask,” Lord said.

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