MANCHESTER – A 78-26 victory over a 49th district foe Oneida Baptist is a great way to start the season. The Lady Tigers were great in every facet of the game on Monday night, as they simply dominated from the outset. The offense rolled and the defense came in waves. 

 Coach James “Ivy” Burchell was glad to see junior guard Taylor Asher make a wonderful return from her knee injury last season. “It was great to see Taylor playing hard-nosed and aggressive basketball after such a serious injury,” he said. “She is a true competitor. We have missed her presence in the post season the past two years, hopefully that won’t be the case this year.” Asher (15pts) got off to a hot start, scoring 10 in the first quarter.

Asher’s first quarter spark was just the beginning. Kaylee Mathis (28pts) was her usual dominant self, finding scoring lanes and nailing jumpers at will. Hailey Napier (11pts) rounded out the double-digit scoring for Clay, as she imposed her will on the boards. Napier had six second-chance points for the Lady Tigers. 

Even during a 52-point victory, Coach Burchell still saw what he would like to improve on. “There is much to be improved on this season, but most importantly is the defensive end of the floor,” he said. “We have to be able to stop dribble penetration and give help when necessary. Also, offensively, we need to be stronger at the rim and develop better court awareness. We miss the open player too often.” 

 The Lady Tigers had 30 points come off the bench, which was wonderful to see after having lost so much offense to graduation. “I can see our bench contributing quite a bit this year,” said Burchell. “I think we have 12 players ready to compete on the varsity level. They have improvements to make, but I think they will come along.”

Overall, Coach Burchell was happy with a great win, and loved seeing his players accept their roles. “Kaylee (Mathis) will have to lead this bunch, but I think her senior leadership will be big,” said Burchell. “Lexi Lewis and Hailey Napier give us the needed inside strength we need to go along with good shooters. Courtney Jones, Allie Phillips, Chandler Rice, and Jaylen Combs are all capable of getting hot on any given night. We will have our ups and downs, but I can see this team being a contender for district and region.”

Kaylee Mathis – 28; Taylor Asher – 15; Hailey Napier – 11; Allie Rose Phillips – 5; Brooklyn Dezarn – 4; Madison Curry – 3; Madison Jones – 3; Jaylen Combs – 3; Alexis Lewis – 2.

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