Out of action all week due to Winter Storm Inga, the Haralson County High School girls' basketball team was able to shake off the rust in formidable fashion on Saturday with a 54-26 home victory over Oak Mountain Academy.
The second battle of the season between the two local non-region foes began as a game of ball control with the visiting Lady Warriors (9-3) slowing down the tempo to offset the athleticism of the Rebelettes (14-2).
But after the first quarter, HC ramped up the pressure with Alexis Boykin racking up several steals through tight man-to-man defense, while junior Indiya Smith dominated on the offensive glass en route to a 10-point, 15-rebound double-double effort. The Rebelettes would take a 27-8 lead into halftime and continue to cruise in the second half to a 28-point win.
After being off the court for so long because of the weather, Rebelette head coach Levi Wigley was pleased with the way his players were able to get themselves back into motion.
"Monday was our last practice, so I knew it was going to be a bit of a struggle getting up and down the floor at times because of some lost conditioning," Wigley said. "But I told the girls that they were in the same position that we were, so we just had to go out there and out-hustle them. They did a good job of pushing through it and playing hard."
OMA head coach Terrell Barkley thought his team gave quality effort, but just made too many miscues.
"We were only down 11-3 in the first quarter, but then they started getting some steals and we started making some mistakes," Barkley said. "With an athletic team like that, you're not going to be able to stall that long."
The Rebelettes now turns their attention to a critical week of Region 6-AAA contests. Wigley understands what's at stake when they hit the court this week.
"They all count from here on out," Wigley said. "We have to be focused and play our best basketball this week."
The Lady Warriors are in a similar boat with four region games coming up this week. Finally getting back into game mode, Barkley hopes his team is ready for the gauntlet that lies ahead.
"I knew (Saturday's game) was going to be rusty and ugly, but hopefully we got it out of our system before next week because we have to win region games to make the state tournament," Barkley said.
Haralson County Boys 59, Oak Mountain 38: The non-region bout began as a blow-for-blow battle initially with OMA freshman Camden Keller burying 3s for the Warriors while Bryson King and Johnathon Housen did the same for Haralson County (3-13).
Taking a 17-11 lead into the second quarter, Housen and the Rebels started to unload, opening the period by going on a 19-2 run to build a massive lead that they would never relinquish. The sophomore would lead his team with 20 points and 13 rebounds as the Rebs snapped a 10-game losing streak.
"It surprised me how well we played because when you have that many days off, it's usually hard to catch, shoot and do other things," HC head coach Anthony Angle said. "With the weather pushing all of our games back, we're going to have to play ourselves back into shape, so it was good that we got to play everybody in this game."
Also taking the court for the first time all week, Barkley hopes Saturday was just a case of his team trying to find its footing again.
"You can learn from any game and I hope we can learn from this one to propel us into a good game on Monday," Barkley said.
Sitting at No. 7 in the GISA Region I-AA standings, the Warriors (2-9) hope to gain ground with four region games coming up this week. A similar slate is on tap for the Rebels, who have a jam-packed two-week stretch of Region 6-AAA games to look forward to leading up through the first week of February.
"We still have a lot of stuff we have to work on," Angle said. "With all of the games we have to make up and the practices that we're not going to get to have because of it, we're just going to have to go on the fly."