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Lady Rebels soak up the sunshine during Orlando tournament play

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BY BARBARA EPPERSON | N-H Correspondent

The Lady Rebels soaked up some Florida sunshine over Christmas break – oh and, they played some basketball too. 
After breakfast and presents on Christmas morning, the team loaded their luggage and set out for the airport. Arriving late afternoon in Orlando, the team enjoyed Christmas dinner together surrounded by palm trees and 80-degree air.
Since tournament play did not begin until Dec. 27, the team enjoyed a full day of outdoor fun at Universal Orlando theme park.
“Florida was a great trip for our girls,” head coach Amy Wesselman said. “And even though you don’t want it to happen, the reality of taking 11 teenagers on a big trip like that is the basketball games become somewhat secondary to having a good time with your teammates.”
The team faced tough competition in all three games of the tournament falling short of the win each game.
“Even though we lost, I thought we learned a lot about clock management and late-game situations,” Wesselman added.
Game one of the tournament proved to be an uneven matchup against a big and physical Georgia team. The Cherokee High School team outscored the Lady Rebels 58-16. 
Natalie Smith led the scoring with five points. Lexie Moore finished with four points, Gracie Ferguson finished with three points and Haley Young and Samantha Woodyard both finished with two points.
In game two on Dec. 28, Owen County took the court against Dublin Jerome High School out of Ohio. The game was a close one with both teams shooting 55 percent from the field. The Lady Rebels fell short at the buzzer scoring 35 points to Dublin Jerome’s 40.
Moore led the scoring with 12 points. Destinee Epperson finished with 10 points. Adding to the scoreboard was Woodyard with five points, Baileigh Young with four points, and Haley Young and Destiny Goodrich each with two points.
On Dec. 29 Owen County tipped off against Cold Harbor Springs High School out of New York. This, the final game of the tournament, proved to be another nail-biter against another physical and big team. 
Despite shooting three percent better from the field, the Lady Rebels could not edge past the New York team. The final score Owen County 44, Cold Harbor Springs 49.
Epperson finished with a double-double, dropping 16 points and pulling down 11 rebounds.  Moore also finished with 16 points.  Adding to the scoreboard was Woodyard and Baileigh Young each with five points and Haley Young with two points.
After arriving home on Dec. 30, the Lady Rebels enjoyed a few days off before hitting the gym to prepare for their first game of 2019 Jan. 3 at home against Shelby County. 
The Lady Rebels struggled from the field shooting just 32 percent against the big and athletic Shelby County team. 
“We struggled to score,” Wesselman said. “They did a good job of taking away our inside presence with their size, but defensively we did an excellent job of keeping their three guards in check.”
Moore led the scoring with 17 points. Woodyard added 11 points and played a strong defensive game.
The Lady Rebels were back in action Monday, Jan. 7, against Eminence in game one of the 8th Region All “A” tournament. The winner will advance to the semi-finals to face-off against the winner between Carroll County and Walton-Verona Jan. 9.  Tip-off for that game is set for 7:30 p.m.
The championship game is set 7:30 p.m., Friday, Jan. 11. Williamstown High School is hosting the All “A” tourney for the girls this year so all games will take place at their location.
Please see the Jan. 16 edition of the News-Herald for tournament results and highlights.