Roger Clay took over the Indian River High School girls’ basketball program under the most unexpected conditions, with virtually no time to recruit new players to the program for his inaugural season.
You could say he was fortunate in that the delayed start to actual game play this season benefitted the team in preparing, as it did afford them several weeks of practice to learn a new system. The extra practice time also provided a chance to condition the team for the condensed 12-game schedule.
The extra practice and conditioning proved to be a positive for the Indians as they jumped out to a big lead early against their hosts, Sussex Academy, on Tuesday, Jan. 12, and then rolling on to a 43-29 victory.
It was the first career coaching win for Clay and gave the Indians a big boost of confidence for the season ahead.
Lauren Meehan led all scorers for the Indians, with 18 points in the contest, while her sister, Micayla Meehan, chipped in with 8 markers. Freshman Alexandria Davidson saw her first high-school varsity action, adding 7 points to the winning effort, with senior Savannah O’Shields contributing 6 and Le’Anya Garrison 4.
“The extra practices definitely helped us prepare for tonight,” said Clay after the win. “Definitely, as a new coach, having that extra time to prepare and condition the girls” was important, he said. “More so to mentally prepare, more than physically, the girls for what we are going to do this year. We were certainly able to get into shape with the extra time, and that definitely helped with the extra-intensity practices. High energy. I think it showed tonight, and we were able to come away with the victory.”
The Indians were able to take a 13-2 advantage after one quarter of play, thanks to all five starters getting into the scoring column, with O’Shields scoring four points to lead the way.
In the second quarter though, Lauren Meehan took over, and she would drop in 9 points to lead the Indians into a 26-13 advantage at the halftime intermission.
“I think it went really well, especially defensively,” she said of the season-opening win. “We had a bit longer to practice since the season got pushed back, and I definitely think that helped.”
Like their male counterparts in the night’s first game, the Seahawks girls battled to make things close in the third quarter, but the Indians thwarted any comeback ideas with strong defense and especially impressive rebounding, to limit Sussex Academy’s extra opportunities offensively.
The Seahawks did take the third quarter 10-7 to shrink the IR lead down to 33-23 heading into the fourth quarter, but a 10-6 advantage over the final eight minutes of play sealed the deal for IR.
Nicole DiMico led the Seahawks with 10 points as nine different players scored in the game for Sussex Academy.
Both Meehan sisters scored four points in the fourth, with Davidson also chipping in a bucket to help the cement the win.
IR was set to travel to Delmar on Thursday, Jan. 14, (after Coastal Point press time) for a game against the Wildcats in another Henlopen Athletic Conference South Division tilt. The Indians will play each team — Sussex Academy, Delmar, Lake Forest, Woodbridge, Laurel, Seaford — in the division twice this season, for a 12-game schedule. Early College High School was on the schedule at the start of the season but has since postponed their games.
Results from the Delmar game will be found on our Facebook page, under Coastal Point Sports News.