Lady 'Bucs win first game 83-72

By Seth Bartee

   The ETSU Lady Bucs basketball played their home opener against UNC-Greensboro Saturday in Brooks Gym. ETSU (1-5, 1-1SoCon) came out on top winning their first game of the season against SoCon rival UNC-G (1-5, 1-1), 83-72.
   Lately for the Lady Buccaneers it has been a season that has started with unfortunate happenings. Senior, Kiya Verdell who graduated Saturday before the game has been slow after returning from a Nov. 11 knee surgery operation, her third. Verdell was the Bucs main source of points production last season and now ETSU coach, Karen Kemp is able to sleep easier tonight because of Brooke Wilhoit and Tiffani Mayes.
   Mayes led the Buccaneer charge with 17 points and leads the team in scoring. Mayes kept the team within constant reach of UNC-G by scoring 13 points in the first half.
   "They stuck with UNC-G the whole game," said Kemp. "They defended the ball offensively and defensively today. It's big for us to win our first game at home and also that it's a conference win too."
   Wins do not come easily without players who are willing to take on loads that are bigger than themselves. And that is exactly what freshman, point guard Brooke Wilhoit did. Wilhoit had not played guard since she was in middle school but injuries and have put her in a position to have to take the position. She made some key steals with 4 on the day and scored 11 points at point guard.
   "At first I did not want the point guard position," said Wilhoit. "I am starting to get used to playing their now."
   Wilhoits biggest achievement for the Lady Bucs was what she did not allow in the second half. UNC-G co-captain, Amanda Eaton, scored 18 points in the first half and acting as a thorn in the flesh to the Bucs. Karen Kemp told her girls that she did not want Eaton to have another big half like she did in the first 20 minutes. Wilhoit then asked Kemp if she could guard Eaton in the second half to stop her scoring rampage. She did only allowing Eaton one 3 pointer in the second half of play.
   "I just asked coach Kemp if I could guard her," said Wilhoit. "I knew if she let me guard her I could hold her under 4 points in the second half."
   The Bucs finally broke the game open as Kiya Verdell scored 10 of her 14 points in the second half and Jessica Lonon hit some key jumpers with about five minutes left to help the Bucs go up 78-68.
   "Jessica (Lonon) is starting to come into her own now," said Kemp. "Jessica is playing Jessica's game and she really helped us out in the second half today."
   Kiya Verdell went down late in the second half grabbing her knee but she was alright after the game.
   "My knee is fine, it just got bent a little as I was going for the ball," said Verdell. "It feels great to win one here at home.
   Otherwise of the defensive end, SoCon leader in rebounds, Lauren Trantham, had 10 rebounds and 12 points. Trantham leads the SoCon with 10.4 rebounds a game.
   The Lady Bucs play their next home game against Elon on December 18th at 7pm. They play away at Clemson on Dec. 15 in an ACC/SoCon matchup.