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Cold start can’t cool off Rebels in 14th win

LIBERTY — The turnovers outnumbered the shots early on, and forget about points — Casey County and Somerset were both scoreless through the first half of the first quarter in Friday’s girls basketball game.

But once the Rebels found their flow, as they often have this season, it carried them to another win, 54-41 over the Briar Jumpers in the 47th District matchup. It’s also their 14th win in 17 games this season and upped their district record to 2-1.

The first points of the game didn’t come until Somerset’s Makaila Wilson drained a pull-up jumper with four minutes gone by in the first quarter. The Briar Jumpers added a free throw and another field goal for a 5-0 before Myla McGowan got Casey on the board with a three-point play.

The Rebels have shown a tendency to let periods of games slip past them without scoring this season, according to coach Tara Weddle. It actually happened twice Friday night — in addition to the opening slump, they allowed Somerset to chop a 13-point lead in the third quarter to six by the end of the frame.

“We tend to struggle playing a whole game,” Weddle said. “You never know what moment of the game where we’ll struggle hitting our shots, and I think there was just a lid on the goal for a little bit. I’m proud of the girls for playing through it because we’re usually so heady and mental that we’ll let something little like that take us totally out of the game.”

Except for two games, the Rebels haven’t let the lapses get in the way of wins. They’ve already eclipsed the win total for the last two seasons, including last year when they won six games and went winless in the district.

Weddle pointed out the youth of the roster — only three players on the 11-player roster aren’t freshmen — but again, that hasn’t stopped them from being one of the biggest surprises in the 12th Region so far.

“I had most of these kids in middle school and they’re coming off six wins last year, so it’s a big deal for them to be where they are,” Weddle said. “They stay composed. They want to win, they want to work hard. Their hard work is paying off.

“I’d put them up against Goliath, I have all the faith in the world in them. It’s great, it’s a great confidence booster for them.”

In Friday’s game, Casey (14-3) scored five more points in the first quarter to take an 8-7 lead into the second, and the score would remain close as Wilson made a three-point play to tie the game at 14-14 midway through the quarter.

From there, however, Casey closed the half on a 15-5 run to take a 29-9 lead into the break. The Rebels extended the lead to 34-21 early in the third quarter on 3-pointers from Natalie Duggins and Gena Cravens, who both finished with 14 points to lead the team.

And despite the Jumpers (4-12) making runs at the lead, the Rebels showed a patience belying their youth and relative inexperience.

“The beginning of the year we struggled when someone would put pressure on us, we’d panic,” Weddle said. “Each game I tell them we’re growing and getting better because their composure and patience is increasing every single game.”

McGowan added 11 points for Casey, and Lauren Lee had eight.

“Whenever we prepare for a team, they’ll have one or two big-time scorers so you know who you have to defend,” Weddle said. “In our games, sometimes (Lee) will have 20-some points or (Duggins) will have 20-some points. It fluxuates. Some games, four of them may have double digits. It makes it nice to have multiple people who can score because it makes us harder to defend.”

Wilson led all scorers with 19 points, but she was held scoreless in the fourth quarter.

Follow Jeremy Schneider on Twitter @jschneideramn