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Lady Sharks show promise in opener loss

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By Jenna McKenna

There was a win inside the Lady Sharks' 44-24 season opening loss to Bronson.

"We made a pledge to win the fourth quarter," Cedar Key varsity girls? head coach Chris Cowart said. "We did it. We outscored them 13-8."

Cedar Key persevered in the face of a double-digit first half deficit, the result of letting early game jitters get the better of them. Bronson rolled up a 13-0 first quarter lead, led by Elizabeth Gay's points in the paint, before the Sharks recovered their composure and started chipping.

"We're very much a work in progress," Cowart explained. "We have some girls who've never even played before. They're learning brand new things."

After suffering a rash of turnovers in the early game, mostly at the hands of the Eagle press, Cedar Key started to put their offense together. Kacey Miller got the Sharks on the board with a free throw at the beginning of the second quarter, and then Lindsay Edmunds scored off an inbounds play. Edmunds directed the Sharks offense very capably, working to keep the ball out of trouble.

Miller sank a runner in the lane, then added another free throw a few moments later.

Deanna Littlefield passed to Miller at the end of the half, and Miller drove left for the bucket and one, which she finished, to bring the Sharks to 25-9 trailing the Eagles at the half.

Jessica Thomas led Bronson in the second quarter, stealing the ball and leading the break, while Ashley Thomas pushed the lead ahead with a quick bucket off the inbounds play.

The Sharks got off to another slow start in the third quarter, but Caely Hibbits shook things up with a nice drive up the middle for two points. Littlefield dished to Miller for a bucket and a foul that sent her to the line, but she couldn't convert.

The Eagles grabbed the opportunity to stretch the lead, with Crystal Gordon twice scoring off takeaways, and Ashley and Jessica Thomas making a basket apiece.

With the game sealed, Bronson had its lightest offensive quarter in the fourth. Cedar Key defended and forced turnovers, with Hibbits grabbing a steal and scoring off the break. Miller rebounded like mad and got the putback, but with six points on the quarter, it was Hibbits in the fourth.

Sarah Harkins put in two more baskets to keep the lead up, and Jessica Thomas had the last score of the game with one final steal.

Despite a mismatch of experience, Cedar Key played with determination and composure.

"I'm very pleased with the effort today," Cowart said. "We're making strides. Our season won't be measured by wins and losses, but by setting and meeting small goals."

The Lady Eagles, likewise, had a lot to be proud of. Head coach Greg Hamilton is in his third year with the program, and noted with pride that this year "Bronson has varsity, JV and middle school girls' teams - for possibly the first time."

Hamilton said his team worked hard after last year's challenging season.

"We've picked up where we left off."

His team is also young, losing three seniors to soccer, and waiting for another key player to rejoin the team. With Mayo (featuring senior Natalie Land) coming up next week, the Eagles have their work cut out for them.

?We're going to take it one game at a time - starting with Cornerstone Christian," said Hamilton.

Leading scorers:

Cedar Key

Kacey Miller, 13 points, Caely Hibbits, 8 points, Lindsay Edmunds, 3 points

Bronson

Jessica Thomas, 12 points, Elizabeth Gay, 11 points, Ashley Thomas, 8 points