Cougars making progress

Published 10:43 pm Friday, January 19, 2018

By Kevin Eckleberry

Shaqoya Gilbert has been a welcome addition at Lafayette Christian School.

The girls’ basketball team is an inexperienced one made up mostly of freshmen and eighth graders, so having a veteran, talented player on the roster has been immensely helpful.

Gilbert was a member of the Troup basketball team the past three seasons, and she’s spending her senior year at Lafayette Christian School.

On Friday, Lafayette Christian was hoping to get a home win over Arlington Christian.

It was close at the half, with Lafayette Christian trailing by three points, but Arlington Christian pulled away in the second half for a 42-25 win.

As has been the case throughout the season, Gilbert led the way in scoring with 15 points, and fellow senior Abbey Hudson added six points.

Lafayette Christian head coach Rene Gomez said the team is at its best when Gilbert is getting her points, but other players are contributing as well.

That was the case in a big region win over Harvester when Gilbert had 30 points, and the other players combined for 25 points in a key region win.

For the most part, though, it has been Gilbert scoring the bulk of the team’s points.

“Abbey helps to score, but we need one or two other girls to kick in five, six points here or there,” Gomez said. “We can’t get into the staring contest and watch her and not be able to go make plays. That’s what we’re trying to learn, and we’re able to do it little by little.”

Gilbert and Hudson are the two veterans on an inexperienced team.

“We’ve got a lot of young players,” Gomez said. “Three quarters of our roster are freshmen and eighth-graders.”

Gomez said getting those young players to adjust to varsity basketball is an ongoing process.

“We’re trying to build a program, and get our basketball IQ up so we know what to do,” he said. “The girls are working hard. We’ve improved from last year. We’ve got us a few wins this year, but we need to be able to finish with plays.

“There were a couple of times when we drove to the basket and had open layups. Other than Shaqoya, we didn’t finish.”

Hudson and Gilbert each scored six points in the first half, and Lafayette Christian was trailing 20-17 at the break.

Arlington began to pull away in the third quarter, and it led 30-19 heading to the final period.

Arlington continued to pad its lead in the fourth quarter, but Gilbert hit back-to-back 3-pointers to get Lafayette Christian within 10.

The rally stalled, though, and Arlington Christian was able to pull away.

Lafayette Christian has a busy week coming up with four games in five days.

The biggest of those games comes on Monday at Harvester Christian.

If Lafayette Christian wins that game, it will likely finish no lower than fourth in the region, meaning it will earn one of the four spots in the region tournament.

“If we can beat them, we should be solely in fourth,” Gomez said. “Hopefully they can equal the performance they had last time when we played here.”