Molly McMullen (HCP Photo/Stephen Forsha)
Molly McMullen (HCP Photo/Stephen Forsha)
MOWRYSTOWN — It was a struggle for the Whiteoak Lady Wildcats to get shots to fall on Saturday afternoon, but the young team who are still finding their way at the varsity level took the first steps of improvement in their 2020-21 season opener.

Whiteoak lost their non-conference game to the visiting Felicity-Franklin Lady Cardinals by a 50-24 score, though it wasn’t due to lack of effort as Whiteoak cut the lead of the visitors to single digits in the middle stages of the third frame.

“The girls work hard every single time they are on the court, and I was very proud of the defense and how they executed changing it up,” WHS head coach Susie Lucas said. “Offensively, we will get some shots to fall, and we had a good bit of open shots today, and they will fall. A lot of it was we have seven freshmen getting used to the tempo of the varsity game. That will come and only go up from here.

“We are going to keep working on all the little things, and having good decision making, and that’s a big thing right now. If we work on that on offense, we’ll start to keep building from there.”

WHS (0-1) trailed by a 7-0 score in the opening frame, as they scored their first points of the contest with 1:15 left in the first quarter when Jaylie Parr sank two free throws for the 7-2 deficit. After two free throws by Felicity-Franklin, WHS scored the final two points of the opening quarter when Kelsey Monteith sank a jumper with 22 seconds on the clock. Monteith led the way for WHS with five points.

The Lady ’Cats trailed by a 9-4 score after the first frame, and in the second it was the visiting team who got off to a strong start to a quarter once again, scoring the first six points of the second quarter with a 3-pointer by Briston Terry, one free throw by Angela Jones and two made free throws by Anna Swisshelm.

Whiteoak stopped the scoring drive with a jumper from the corner by Kayla Jones with 6:26 left in the second frame for a 15-6 deficit. Jones totaled four points in the loss.

The Lady Cardinals (1-0) answered with five straight points off a layup and 3-pointer from Swisshelm with 3:37 on the clock for a Felicity-Franklin lead fo 20-6. WHS came back with a layup by Madison Thompson and a jumper from Kara Ward to make it a 10-point game with WHS trailing 20-10 with 2:43 still remaining in the first half. Ward and Thompson each totaled four points in the game for WHS.

Lydia Carr cut the Lady Cardinals’ lead to seven points with a 3-pointer at the 2:04 mark, but two free throws by Swisshelm, and a free throw make by Whiteoak’s Monteith, left WHS trailing 22-14 at halftime.

The second half wasn’t great for the host Whiteoak squad as they were held to 10 points in the half, scoring five points in both the third and fourth frames. WHS got as close as nine points to the lead in the third frame with around 3:00 left in the quarter, but turnovers and miscues by the young team ended up hurting them against the Lady Cardinals.

“We want to keep the scores as close as we possibly can and not be a team that gets down, and not put ourselves in a hole,” Lucas said. “We had a good run to get to within nine, but we had a little bit of foul trouble, and mentally a couple little things on passing that we just shut down there a little bit.

“We came off quarantine this past Monday, and the girls got a couple scrimmages in, so I feel like as far as freshmen getting the nerves out and getting used to the game tempo, and then working with the upperclassmen and the leadership of it, I feel like they are really going to come tighter and build.”

WHS scored four points off one basket each by Ward and Jones, plus one free throw by Emmy Hawkins, in the third. In the fourth quarter, the five points were all from the free-throw line with Monteith scoring two points, Thompson with two points and Parr with one point.

For Felicity-Franklin, their leading scorer for the game was Swisshelm with 24 points, as she made three two-point field goals, along with two 3-pointers and she was 12-of-14 from the free-throw line. Also for the Cardinals, Jones scored 19 points in the season opener with four two-point baskets, a 3-pointer and she was 8-of-11 in her free throw shooting. Terry totaled five points, and Joana Hamilton scored two points from the free-throw line.

Whiteoak finished the game with a 9-of-17 performance from the free-throw line, while Felicity-Franklin was 22-of-29.

Next for Whiteoak is a home non-conference game on Tuesday, Nov. 24 against Portsmouth.