First-year Bartlett Lady Panthers Head Coach Jasmine James emphasizes some things to her guard Kristen Davis during the game against the TRA Lady Rebels.

Crossing paths: Lady Panthers get a tough lesson from established Lady Rebels

Lady Panther forward Madison Guess tries to avoid a triple team from the Lady Rebels during last week’s game in the TRA Gymnasium. Photos by Thomas Sellers Jr.

Tipton-Rosemark Academy Head Coach Cameron Pridemore knows what Jasmine James is going through this season.

Just a couple of years ago, Pridemore inherited a Lady Rebel program full of young talent and raw potential. Last season TRA reached Sub-State and entered this campaign with high expectations in Division II-A.

Meanwhile, the Bartlett Lady Panthers’ all-time leading scorer James is back home taking over the program from longtime coach Lynn Whitfield. James went on to Georgia and the WNBA before Whitfield passed her the reins of the program.

Last Thursday night the Lady Panthers and Lady Rebels crossed paths in the TRA Gymnasium for an early season challenge. The outcome was 69-29 in favor of TRA.

“We’re playing well,” Pridemore said. “I just told them in the locker room, I felt with the score aside that we played pretty tough. I felt like we played really hard and really disciplined. In games with a score like that, those are the things we’re really looking for.

“I felt like we did a good job of those things,” he added. “We’ve really done well the past week or so. It’s something I’ve been hoping for and looking for as these girls get older and mature. I felt like those were areas we needed to work on, like our toughness.”

The Lady Rebels came out with pressure defense and an aggressive approach on offense, jumping ahead 28-5. TRA’s trio of Abby West, Megan Sanfratello and Brianna Hall led the way, scoring all the points in the opening period.

As Pridemore’s established trio built the lead, younger Lady Rebels such as Anna Redman, Gracen Williams, Kelsi Clark, Sarah Allyn Thornell and Eva McIntosh contributed with tough defense and rebounding.

McIntosh was thrust into her new role after the injury of Jordan Allen. Allen was the 2017-18 team MVP averaging a double-double. She will miss this season because of her torn ACL.

“Eva McIntosh has done a great job,” Pridemore noted. “In our first game she scored 18 against St. Benedict. Then she hit a shot against Lexington with about 2 seconds to go, with us winning by 1. She has stepped into that role very, very well. She’s tough and she brings a toughness that Jordan brought.”

McIntosh scored a bucket early in the second quarter to make the tally 32-5. Before that, Thornell hit a jumper.

First-year Bartlett Lady Panthers Head Coach Jasmine James emphasizes some things to her guard Kristen Davis during the game against the TRA Lady Rebels.

Bartlett started to get into an offensive flow later in the first half with baskets from LaNerra Gray and Kristen Davis. TRA led 42-13 going into the break.

TRA outscored Bartlett 24-8 in the third quarter. Once again, West contributed with 13 points in the period, making the score 66-21 going into the fourth quarter.

The Lady Panthers won the last quarter 8-3, but it was TRA improving to 4-0 on the season. As the Lady Panthers continue their transition period, the Lady Rebels are looking to take another step forward in their process of reaching State in 2019.

“The biggest thing I want to see as we get into district stuff is consistency from game to game,” Pridemore concluded. “Being really good at being tough, those intangible things one night and then they’re dipping off the next. We need to be consistent in those areas. It’s really what we’re working on and hope to see consistency in those things.”