PRAIRIE GROVE -- A few games into the young girls basketball season one thing is obvious, this year Prairie Grove coach Kevin Froud achieves success using a limited rotation.
Froud played seven girls in wins Nov. 13, 2018 at Huntsville and Nov. 19, 2018 at Greenland, then used only one substitute in the home-opener, 50-40, win over Siloam Springs on Nov. 20, 2018.
This has been done before at higher levels.
The 1987-1988 Oklahoma Sooners' men's basketball team coached by Billy Tubbs rarely substituted going 27-3 during the regular season, winning the Big 8 Conference tournament and sweeping through 5 more wins in the NCAA tournament before losing 83-79 to Kansas in the finals. Three starters: guard Mookie Blaylock, guard Ricky Grace, and forward Harvey Grant each averaged over 34 minutes-per-game with center Stacey King averaging 31.1 minutes of playing time. Grace missed one game. The other three played in all 39 games the Sooners competed in.
Tubbs and the Sooners played an up-tempo game averaging 104.8-points-per-game highlighted by a 114.4 points-per-contest on their home court.
Early Season Indicator
Greenland challenged Prairie Grove's press with a full-court running attack. The Lady Pirates jumped out to a 21-20 first quarter lead but the Lady Tigers proved equal to the task clawing ahead, 39-37, at the half. Prairie Grove scored at least 17 points in each quarter bookending the contest with a 20-point effort in the fourth to pull out a 76-68 road victory.
"They (Greenland) kept running and shooting layups, so we knew we had to, too," said senior Emily Grant, who was hampered by foul trouble.
Her teammates more than took up the slack. Sophomore Jasmine Wynos scored 23 points and pulled down 15 rebounds. Seniors Lexie Madewell (18), and Larisha Crawford (17) combined for 35 points.
Without much rotation off the bench the Lady Tiger nucleus, which includes senior Jordan Sugg and senior Kaylee Elder tasked with guarding larger opponents on the low block, and sophomore Mariah Halbert, are preparing to go the distance every game, if necessary. Grant knows each player must maximize her playing time.
"We're getting lots of conditioning in, we're all in really good shape cause we know we got to go out there every night and there's going to be some games where we're going to have to go out there and play a whole game," Grant said. "We got to be ready any time to step up and play an entire game."
One element of that is playing smart and avoiding cheap fouls.
"There are certain shots, and we all know, we're all ball-smart," Grant said. "That goes back to, we played together so long we all know each other's strengths and we're able to play together very well."
In the season-opener at Huntsville Grant made a crucial steal late in the fourth by holding her ground.
"It was a big momentum swing play and we were able to take the ball the other way," Grant said. "That was a pretty close game (that) went down to the wire at the end and that was able to give the team some good momentum and get the ball back in our hands and we were able to score off the next play actually, just a big momentum swing for us."
During another tight contest against Siloam Springs, Grant hit timely shots. On several occasions when the Lady Panthers appeared to be on the verge of building momentum, Grant asserted herself on the offensive end of the court and knocked down jump-shots.
"Senior year, I know I've got to go in there and be a strong role player, strong offensively, on the offensive side of the ball," Grant said. "I see a team going on a run and I know we've got to do something to stop that. I've been able to grow as a player, and I don't want to be afraid of the big moment to go in there and hit a shot and change the momentum and get it back on our side."Sports on 12/05/2018
Print Headline: Lady Tigers Succeed With Limited Rotation