By Alan Brads
The Cedarville Lady Jackets basketball team fell to Wayne State 78-68 in their home opener.
Cedarville’s high intensity kept them leading throughout the majority of the first half, but they ran out of steam in the second half, and made too many mistakes to hang with Wayne State until the end.
“We’re a defensive team, and we didn’t play very well defensively as a group,” First year Head Coach Addy Miller said. “At times, we did the first effort really well. We rotated great once, but then we wouldn’t rotate the second and the third time. That’s the stuff that’s hard work, but that’s where we gotta get to be a good team.”
In the first half, which ended in a 33-33 tie, Cedarville tallied 14 points off turnovers, and 13 second chance points, a testament to their ability and willingness to scrap.
Wayne State pulled away in the fourth quarter, when Cedarville started losing the effort battle, and stopped getting those high-effort points. The Jackets recorded just two points off turnovers in the second half.
The Warriors also outrebounded Cedarville 45-35, which has been a consistent issue for the Jackets who have now lost their season-long rebounding battle 93-143.
“The key differences, 100% were rebounding number one, and number two was second effort,” Miller said. “I felt like we did a pretty good job on our first effort, and then didn’t do the second, third, fourth, fifth.”
Part of the tale of two halves for Cedarville can be credited to senior guard Anne Wheeler going down with an apparent leg injury near the end of the second quarter. Wheeler did not return to the game, but returned to bench from the locker room on crutches.
“When you see your point guard, your leader, your senior go down, I think everyone for a minute stops,” Miller said. “They start thinking and kinda forget what’s going on. They love her, and are concerned about her and want to know what’s going on with her. It’s really hard to get back into the flow when something like that happens.”
As Cedarville lost a critical starter, Wayne State tapped into their deep bench to keep them fresh through four quarters. 11 Wayne State players touched the court in the first half, eight of which played at least 17 minutes in the game. The Warriors embodied team basketball. Five players scored in the double digits, but none of them more than 13. Junior Shea Tripp finished a rebound shy of a double-double.
KaCee Kyle, a transfer from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, led Cedarville in rebounds and steals, tied for the lead in assists, and scored 14 points. Kyle averages 15.3 points per game, and may see an increased workload on the perimeter if Wheeler misses significant time.
Lydia Sweeney led Cedarville with 16 points, but contributed far more than that to the Jackets in this game, and will continue to do so. Sweeney will be the only healthy senior left for the Yellow Jackets, barring Wheeler’s return.
She is playing in her fourth year at Cedarville, under her third coach. That is plenty of experience to provide the leadership every team needs. Sweeney took it upon herself to be the primary voice of encouragement during team huddles during timeouts, and directed traffic on the floor alongside her fellow guard, Kyle.
“Obviously being here for four years you just have that experience,” Sweeney said. “Coach has been really good about pushing us to be better leaders and lead by example.”
Expectations for such a historically successful program are sky high, but patience is a virtue, one worth exercising in Coach Miller’s first season with the Jackets, a year removed from a 7-19 record.
“We’re getting there, we’re learning, we’re playing,” Miller said. “But we’ve gotta play harder for 40 minutes instead of just spurts here and there.”
Cedarville falls to 1-2 on the season, and has a date on the road with Saginaw Valley State on November 21. One last game for Miller’s crew to figure things out before the rubber meets the road and the conference season begins.
Alan Brads is a senior journalism student and sports editor for Cedars. He enjoys playing the drums, speaking Spanish and watching Buckeye football like his life depends on it.
Photos by Logan Howard