Lady Buffs trample Bluefield

By Kim Richardson
STAR Correspondent
Ann Marie Gardner didn't start Thursday evening's home game against the Lady Rams of Bluefield College (Va.), but when she entered the game, she started a defensive and rebounding uprising.
"I like to think I bring intensity to the team when I come into the game," Gardner said. "I wasn't in sync offensively, but it feels good to give the team a lift any way I can."
Gardner's production was instant and continuous. She contributed four points, seven rebounds and three assists in only 16 minutes of play as the Lady Buffs cruised to a 24-point margin of victory over the Rams, 74-50.
Coach Rich Aubrey agreed, saying: "She brings it. She's all-out from the time she steps on the floor."
Coach Aubrey's counterpart, Cheryl Fielitz, said that the Buffs won the battle of wills
"They were more aggressive from the word go. We didn't box out, and when we did, we didn't box out deep enough," she said. "We let them set the tone."
Butler native and former Hampton standout Ginny White concurred that the game was decided on the defensive end, and especially under the defensive goal.
"We were denying them many putback opportunities," White said. "They were a more aggressive team at Bluefield. We were limiting their number of shots and tried cut shut down the middle for (Bluefield guard) Ty (Hollins)."
"Sure, the numbers were okay offensively," said Hollins, when told of her 17-point output, "but we know we're capable of playing much better. We didn't attack like we should have. But they had a lot to do with that. They were on their game tonight."
Pulaski, Tennessee native Jacque Cantrell led the Rams and all scorers with 19 points, but would've preferred a different outcome.
"We know we're better as a team," stated Cantrell. "We were having a little trouble hitting our lanes, but their defense was much better here on their home court. They played very inspired basketball tonight."
Coach Aubrey complimented his ladies' efforts.
"Kari (Stout) and Ginny were on, but it was an overall team effort," Aubrey said. "I think Lacy (York) and Leah (Seevers) stood out as well."
York was a mainstay defensively, and garnered nine rebounds to go with her 12 points. Seevers and Joy Clark tallied 10 points each. Overall, Milligan had five players in double figures, including Stout with 15, and White with 12.
The game was a contrast in style from the outset. Milligan's ability to slow the Lady Rams' running game with different defensive looks resulted in a 37-20 Lady Buffaloes lead at halftime.
The Rams countered with the outstanding athletic ability of Hollins and the blue-collar effort of Cantrell to stay within reach before the Lady Buffs stampeded to a 19-4 start of the second half.
Milligan now gets ready for a visit from King College. The Lady Tornado blows into Steve Lacy Fieldhouse Saturday for the 5:30 p.m. tipoff.
The game will feature several former Carter County prep stars. King's roster includes former Cloudland standout Ashley Stocton, who had a 19-point outburst against Tennessee Wesleyan last Thursday. Former Cyclone Beth Holtsclaw also plays for King, though she is expected to redshirt this season.
Unaka standout Bobbie Blevins also plays for King. But the most interesting feature might be when Amber Farmer takes to the court against former Lady Bulldog teammates White, Stout and Amanda Greene, who contributed to the Lady Buffaloes' cause with two points, two rebounds and two assists.
So, any hard feelings or lingering malcontent come tip-off time?
"No way," Stout stated. "I feel it's an honor to meet former Carter Countians in the college game. Hey, we're all fortunate. We attend outstanding colleges. We'll play to the best of our abilities.
"I'm sure we all will want to prove ourselves capable, but in the end, we'll be glad to see each other. I think it -- all of us still playing -- speaks highly for our high school coaches and teachers, and for Carter County schools in general."