11:43 PM CST on Monday, January 3, 2011
By Ben Baby / For the Denton Record-Chronicle
ARGYLE — Blame it on Lovejoy’s defense. Blame it on turnover after turnover. Blame it on the absence of one of its best players.
Argyle had a plethora of reasons to fault its 68-42 lashing at the hands of Lovejoy on Monday night in its final game before the start of District 9-3A play. In this case, it might be the last reason that is the primary cause.
Argyle’s Michelle Kuckelman, left, drives to the basket while being defended by Lovejoy’s Kat Odom, center, and Courtney Smith during a nondistrict game on Monday in Argyle.
Once again, Argyle was without Barbara-Scott Kolb, who went down with a knee injury late in the fourth quarter in a win against Crandall on Dec. 20.
Argyle has dropped its last four contests, three of which came in last week’s Whataburger tournament in Saginaw. Prior to Monday’s 26-point drubbing, the Lady Eagles lost the three tournament matchups by an average of five points.
“I don’t know if it’s the girls focusing a little too much on her absence, but whatever it is, we’re not playing as nearly as well as we were a few weeks ago,” said Argyle head coach Steve Schmidt. “We’ve got to get out of the rut that we’re in pretty quick.”
From the opening tip, things did not go well for Argyle (13-7). After two turnovers and two consecutive buckets by Lovejoy, Schmidt burned a timeout 37 seconds into the contest. The Lady Eagles were able to capture the lead late in the first half, but after a couple of lead changes, a basket by Lovejoy’s Courtney Smith gave the Lady Leopards (13-10) an advantage they did not give up the rest of the night.
“We were just making bad decisions,” Schmidt said.” After two or three turnovers and a couple of timeouts, I think we calmed down. We were fine for a while, and all of sudden, we went back into the same routine.”
In the second half, Lovejoy continued to knock down shots, while at the same time forcing errors out of Argyle. The Lady Leopards outscored the Lady Eagles 35-17 in the final 16 minutes. Argyle trailed by seven points after the second quarter.
“I saw one team finishing really tough shots, one team fighting for three or four chances with offensive rebounds, one team playing much more aggressive,” Schmidt said. “The other team, unfortunately us, was playing very passive until the last quarter.”
Madison Eschle led the way for Argyle, tallying a team-high 16 points. Eschle was the only Lady Eagle in double figures, with Allea Harris the next leading scorer with eight points.
For the Lady Leopards, Millie Rivera torched Argyle’s defense, pacing all scorers with 22 points. Katherine McBride chipped in with 17, and Smith scored 16.
Argyle will not have a lot of time to think about the loss. The Lady Eagles will start their defense of the 9-3A title this Friday against Aubrey. Schmidt said that Kolb will be evaluated on a day-by-day basis.
“I really expect that when the girls get to district play, and understand the importance that this is the start of the real season, that they will pick it up in all levels, all areas,” Schmidt said. “Nobody’s going to give us an easy game, so we’ve got to get back on track.”