For a young team, every game can be a learning experience. Such is the case for the Raymore-Peculiar girls.
The Panthers have three sophomores and a junior in their starting five and that can mean a lot of hard lessons will be in store for them as they contend with a rugged Suburban Conference Big Six schedule.
One those lessons came on Feb. 3, when Ray-Pec discovered that not playing solid defense for four quarters can lead to a 68-49 loss like the Panthers suffered against Lee’s Summit at the Tigers’ gym.
The loss dropped Ray-Pec to 5-13 overall and 0-3 in the Big Six. For one half, the Panthers played Lee’s Summit on equal terms and looked ready to gain their first conference win. But that all changed in the second half, when Lee’s Summit started finding easy paths to the basket.
“I thought we played pretty well the first half,” Ray-Pec coach Brad Gaines said. “I thought we ran the floor, we passed the ball pretty well. They key for us is defense and we played horrible in the second half. “We can’t give up the dribble drive to the basket the whole time.”
Ray-Pec trailed 13-12 after the first quarter, and the score was tied 20-20 late in the second quarter before Lee’s Summit ended the half with a 28-23 lead.
Lee’s Summit, 6-11 and 1-3, started pulling away in the third quarter behind Bailey Baird, who led all scorers with 23 points. Baird scored 11 points in the third period, mostly on drives down the lane, as the Tigers built up a 53-36 lead by the end of the period.
Ray-Pec, meanwhile struggled against Lee’s Summit’s defense, which limited leading scorer Meghan Maher to nine points with a box-and-one look most of the game. Taylor Koper led Ray-Pec with 13 points and Toni Martin also reached double figures with 12.
“If I were to play us I would do the same thing,” Gaines said of Lee’s Summit’s defense. “Our role players still haven’t learned how to expand their roles. They’re pretty good at the things we ask them to do early, but they’ve got to get better than that.”
Which means the learning process will continue for Ray-Pec. But as long as he sees progress, Gaines is fine with that. “Sports is always about learning,” he said. “If you learn from your mistakes and get better, then things will get better for you.”