Calling for reinforcements
Despite coach’s absence, Lady Bobcats pull off huge road win
Tuesday night, the Lady Bobcats won their first game on the road this season against Immaculata, and they did it without head coach Mardy Robinson.
Home with a touch of the flue, Robinson had freshman coach Noah Simpson fill in for her in a last second decision to not risk her health.
Simpson, who has sat on the bench of almost every varsity game this season, said the 46-42 victory over Imac was the Lady Bobcats' finest team effort of the season.
"Everyone just did what it took to win the game," said Simpson, whose own freshman team has only one loss on the season. "We rebounded better and took care of the ball."
At first the loss of their head coach and mentor came as a shock to the team, but after they accepted it and made some adjustments, it was time to go to work. The Lady Bobcats lost to Immaculata just a week ago, but were inspired to win even without Robinson.
Last week's game saw Imac go on a 10-0 run to start the game, and Simpson knew he couldn't afford to let that happen again.
"We really focused on not starting the game out in a hole," Simpson said. "We just wanted to focus on what we needed to do to win the game."
What they needed to do was have a big game from one of their players, and with the fresh four, Cassie Lombardino, Michelle Chrisman, Ashley Jeannin and Brooke Sanders, chances were it was going to come from a freshman.
The 6-foot-1 Lombardino rolled up her sleeves and put the team squarely on her back. She scored a season high 27 points, and she did all of her scoring in just three quarters. She didn't score in the third, but 12 of her points came in the fourth quarter, exactly when her team needed her the most.
"She's getting better every game," senior Sammy Paterson said. "Playing stronger with the ball and getting more confidence in herself."
Accompanied by Lombardino, fellow freshman Chrisman was 3-3 from the field and finished with nine points and six assists.
The Lady Bobcats took a small lead into the half, but had been up by nine at one point. Imac went on a 5-0 run before the end of the half, taking the air from their opponent's sails, trailing by only four at the break.
Once again Simpson focused on coming out of the gate strong, wanting to take away the steam of the Lady Raiders. Without any support from Lombardino, the Lady Bobcats held onto a four point lead, and headed into the fourth quarter.
But Immaculata wasn't going to give up that easily. The Lady Raiders switched to a full court press, something the Lady Bobcats have struggled handling all season. In the first minute of play in the fourth quarter Immaculata hit a three and stole the ensuing inbounds pass for an easy lay-up, scoring five unanswered points in a matter of 15 seconds.
Simpson had seen enough and with the game knotted at 32, with seven minutes left, he called a time out to draw up a way around the man-to-man press. The temporary coach must have done something right because the Lady Bobcats scored four unanswered points to ensure their victory.
"I'm very pleased with their performance," Simpson said. "I was very glad I got to be a part of it."
Perhaps a win was just what the doctor ordered, in hopes Robinson will return to good health. She is expected to return for the Bobcats make-up game with rival Bonner Springs, which is scheduled to tip off at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 3.