Prep Basketball: Lady Bulldogs fall short in season opener
KINGMAN – The Kingman High School girls basketball team knew this season would be much different than a year ago. A number of new faces are taking on bigger roles and it showed Monday in the Lady Bulldogs' 58-37 loss to St. John Paul.
“We will have to learn as we go throughout the season how to fight through games,” said Kingman High head coach Kevin Hubbard. “We’re young – we have a lot of freshmen, sophomores and juniors who haven’t played varsity minutes. They’re learning what it’s like to get down in a game, get hit in the mouth a little bit and fight their way back. I’m proud of how they fought. There are a lot of good things to build on.”
One of the biggest things the Lady Bulldogs can build on is their strong finish. Kingman entered halftime trailing 34-10, but outscored the Lady Lions by a 27-24 margin after the break.
A lot of that had to do with senior Star Talayumpteua, who scored 12 of her team-high 18 points in the second half.
“I’m proud of Star for finding her touch a little bit, getting some good defensive stops and turnovers,” Hubbard said. “And forcing the issue a little bit, keeping the game exciting. It’s difficult to go in there with a 24-point deficit at halftime. You can only ask for someone to fight like she did and I’m proud of her. We’ll build off of that leadership going forward.”
The leadership was important for the Lady Bulldogs, but they couldn’t find an answer for St. John Paul’s Keyla Cervantes. She tallied a game-high 22 points, highlighted by an 8-for-13 effort from the free-throw line.
“All respect to St. John Paul and No. 22,” Hubbard said of Cervantes. “I don’t know her name, but she is fantastic. She is a great ballplayer and she scored in very tough situations all night. They had a couple of players that really gave us a hard time. And in the end, sometimes that’s hard to slow down.”
Hubbard wasn't going to blame anyone but himself for Kingman’s struggles.
“Sometimes you come in with a game plan and this great idea, but I told them to just forget everything I taught them,” Hubbard said of his halftime speech. “To be honest, I think my coaching got in the way in the first half. I’ll take this one on me a little bit, not having them ready to play.”
The speech worked, as the Lady Bulldogs played much better in the second half, but it won’t get any easier as they travel to Lee Williams at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. However, don't expect Kingman to just turn to one player against the Lady Vols.
“It’s a team by committee,” Hubbard said. “I think every game we’re going to have someone (different) step up like Star did in the second half. Shots will start falling and things will keep rolling. For that player, they’re just going to have to keep going. When we find that player, that’s who we’re going to ride that game.”