Lady Blazers put lessons to good use in MWAC victory

John Wood Community College¹s Alison Loos, right, dives for a loose ball while Lincoln¹s Jessica Miller reaches to poke the ball away during JWCC¹s 61-45 MidWest Athletic Conference victory. (H-W Photo/Michael Kipley)
Posted: Jan. 24, 2013 3:24 am Updated: Feb. 14, 2013 5:15 am

Herald-Whig Sports Editor

Norm Rodriguez learned a lesson long ago that still applies today.

You can never have enough scorers.

With two players sidelined by injuries, including leading scorer Briana Hawthorne, the John Wood Community College women's basketball coach turned to the rest of his roster in hopes the productivity wouldn't diminish.

The Lady Blazers answered that challenge as 11 players scored in Wednesday night's 61-45 victory over Lincoln at the JWCC Student Activity Center.

"I've tried to find people where if you stop that one, this one steps up," Rodriguez said. "If you stop this one, the next one steps up. We're pretty fortunate we've been able to do that through the years, and we were pretty fortunate we were able to do that tonight."

There was a time that didn't happen.

In Rodriguez's first season at JWCC, the Lady Blazers were built around the tandem of Jessy Fletcher and Tessa Thurman. When Illinois Central College sold out to stop the dynamic duo, John Wood didn't have an answer.

"I didn't have anybody who would step up," Rodriguez said. "I didn't ever want to be in that position again."

He's not because players like Cheyenne Hedrington and Marshaya Sangsgter aren't afraid to take over.

Hedrington, a 5-foot-10 freshman forward from Champaignm Ill., scored a game-high 17 points and helped the Lady Blazers end the first half with a flourish.

Trailing for the majority of the game's first eight minutes, JWCC closed the half on a 26-4 run with Hedrington scoring 15 points in the stretch.

"For us to come out and respond the way they responded, it gives us some hope that we've turned the corner a little bit," Rodriguez said.

They needed to. JWCC came into Wedneday night's game having lost three games in a row, including a 67-55 loss to Danville in the MidWest Athletic Conference opener.

The hardest part was finding a way to replace Hawthorne's production. The 5-10 sophomore forward for St. Louis tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee and is lost for the season.

"When we need a basket to stop other people's runs, she's been able to do that," Rodriguez said. "She's our lock-down defender. She fills two very important roles for us."

Finding people to take on those roles isn't easy.

"Offensively, we've struggled," Rodriguez said. "This was a good sign tonight."

It's the sign he'd been waiting to see.




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