By Maurice Patton
THOMPSONS STATION — For his team’s third game of the season, Tuesday’s trip to Independence wasn’t as ‘ugly’ as veteran Spring Hill coach Jimmy Young had anticipated.
“We scored 47 (points). That surprised me, for one practice in 12 days,” Young said after the Raiders dropped a 76-47 District 11-AAA decision. “They’ve got some size, which makes a huge difference against us. But we’ve found some guys that can score the ball.
“For where we were, I thought we did a pretty good job.”
Between their own pandemic interruptions and those of scheduled opponents, the Raiders’ only previous contests were a 76-41 loss to league foe Ravenwood on Dec. 11 and a 46-36 nondistrict win over Hickman County six days later. Most recently, Spring Hill was quarantined for 10 days.
At times, the rust showed. A series of early turnovers against Independence’s pressure defense resulted in the Eagles (7-6, 4-3) getting out to a 20-6 lead with about 6½ minutes remaining in the opening quarter, and while Spring Hill never trailed by fewer than 10 points the rest of the way, the blowout that may have been expected from such a start never really materialized.
That, in part, was because of Jaylen Rucker. The senior post gave the Raiders a consistent interior threat, finishing with 16 points and battling Independence’s Cameron Bell and Justin Miles in the paint.
Still, the Eagles’ up-tempo pace took its toll on Spring Hill over the length of the game.
“We had no legs,” Young said. “We had our moments, but they were few and far between. As we get more repetitive, more practices under our belts, those things will work themselves out.
“They gave me all they had. We just ran out of gas. I told them, have fun, play hard, and don’t worry about the other stuff.”
Kai’Seanne Brashear added 12 points for Spring Hill. Jett Montgomery scored a game-high 19 points and Bell 15 for Independence.
Rollin’ Lady Raiders: Kat Carter has been where the Independence girls are.
As a freshman, Carter was on a Spring Hill team that went 1-24, losing 23 straight games to end the 2017-18 season.
“It’s so frustrating,” she said after her Lady Raiders won 50-18 Tuesday – improving to 8-3 overall and 3-0 in district play. “I remember when we could barely dribble the ball. Now we can actually run an offense.
“We used to have one girl that could score. I feel pretty comfortable (now) that whoever has the ball, something good is going to come out of it.”
Spring Hill’s ‘big three’ of Sierra Stedman – besides Carter, the team’s only other senior – Prairie Stedman and Cole Alderson accounted for all but four of the Lady Raiders’ points Tuesday. That trio got the visitors off to an 18-6 first-quarter start, with Sierra Stedman scoring a game-high 21 points.
Independence (1-12, 0-5) got a team-high six points from reserve Ryan Brown.
Next up: Independence faces visiting Brentwood in 11-AAA play Friday, while Spring Hill hosts Franklin before traveling Saturday to Columbia Central for the McDonald’s Shootout.
Independence boys 76, Spring Hill 47
S 12 11 9 15 – 47
I 25 18 16 17 – 76
Spring Hill (47) – Jayden Davis 2, Jaylen Rucker 16, Quintaveous Simmons 6, Bryce St. Croix 6, Kai’Seanne Brashear 12, Blaise Martin 2, Ashton Alderson 3
Independence (76) – Colin Upright 6, Jett Montgomery 19, Owen Ries 5, Tyus Anderson 6, Henry Spaanstra 2, Sam Womack 6, Jaxson Campbell 7, Andrew Murphy 2, River Katina 4, Cameron Bell 15, Matthew Whitt 2, Justin Miles 2
3-pointers – Spring Hill 1 (Alderson), Independence 6 (Upright 2, Montgomery 2, Ries, Campbell)
Spring Hill girls 50, Independence 18
S 18 15 7 10 – 50
I 6 2 4 6 – 18
Spring Hill (50) – Kat Carter 2, Cole Alderson 10, Prairie Stedman 15, Belle Brashear 2, Sierra Stedman 21
Independence (18) – Leah Oubre 2, Evy Nichols 2, Claudia Chilton 4, Ryan Brown 6, Cristy Martinez 4
3-pointers — none