The bench came up big for the Stonewall Lady Longhorns.
Head coach Christie Jennings shuffled 11 different players in and out of her lineup and the Lady Longhorns rarely missed a beat while dismantling Crowder 70-41 to tip off the 2010-11 season Tuesday night inside the Murphy-Roberts Gym.
In the boys’ game, the host Longhorns overcame a slow start and kept within striking distance the entire second half but simply couldn’t get enough shots to fall down the stretch in a 52-45 season-opening loss to the Demons.
Stonewall 70, Crowder 41
The Lady Longhorns had three players reach double digits — including two off the bench — and 10 of the 11 players who entered the game scored at least two points. Stonewall starters combined for 33 points while the reserves totaled the remaining 37.
“We’re deep. I think that’s what is going to make us real tough to scout and real tough to guard. You don’t know who is going to step up for us each and every night,” Jennings said.
Starter Brittany Gipson led all scorers with 18 points and sank a trio of 3-pointers in the contest. Sister Breana Gipson added 10 points and a team-high eight rebounds off the bench. Cheyanne Miller, another reserve, added 11 points while non-starter Kim Helms added nine points and a team-high five steals.
Crowder simply couldn’t keep up with the onslaught.
“It gives our starters a chance to rest and more than anything, it gives us a lot of fouls — and I don’t mean that like we’re going to hammer somebody. We just won’t have to worry about foul trouble as much,” Jennings said of her newfound depth.
Stonewall led just 13-9 after one quarter but scored the first nine points of the second quarter via a fast-break layup by Miller, three free throws from Bradianne Daniel and a triple and free throw by Brittany Gipson to begin to pull away at 22-9.
The Lady Longhorns led by 17 on two separate occasions in the second quarter before settling for a 35-19 lead at the break.
The Demonettes got within 13 on a fast break basket by Skyler Wood at the 4:50 mark of the third quarter (39-26), but Daniel and Helms hit 3-pointers during a 10-2 run that stretched the Stonewall lead to 49-28. Danielle Clark’s late basket — the last one of the game — was a short jumper that gave the host their biggest advantage of the night.
And it could have been worse. The only blemish on an otherwise successful opening night was a 13-of-30 effort from the free throw line.
“That’s only thing I was concerned about tonight was our free throw percentage. It wasn’t where I wanted it to be, but it will get better,” Jennings said.
Crowder got a monster night from its playmaker, Sierra Romine, who scored 17 points and grabbed a team-high 16 rebounds. No other Crowder player reached double digits but Wood finished with eight points and four steals.
Crowder 52, Stonewall 45
With starters David Hamilton and Dakota McCollum relegated to the bench for nearly one whole quarter, Crowder actually jumped out to leads of 13-2 and 20-9 to start the contest.
McCollum scored the first points of the second period thanks to a nice pass from Hamilton and Dakota Gore’s coast-to-coast layup cut the Crowder lead to 20-17.
Trailing 27-22, Dillon Monday hit a short jumper and Hamilton drained a 3-pointer to knot the score at 27-all at the 3:18 mark.
After Crowder big man John Perry scored inside put his team up by three with nine seconds left, it looked like the Demons would take the lead into the halftime locker room. But McCollum hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer that tied things up at 32-32. McCollum would lead Stonewall with 15 points and also had six rebounds.
“I was proud of them in that second quarter. To battle back and tie it going into halftime was huge,” SHS head coach Wes Moreland said.
The third quarter featured three ties and three lead changes and after Gore hit two free throws with 1.2 ticks left, the two teams headed to the final frame tied at 39-39.
Crowder guard Keyton Jameson, who scored 10 of the Demons first 12 points of the game, hit a 3-pointer to start the fourth and Perry hit a free throw to put Crowder on top 43-39 with six minutes left.
After Gore — who reached double figures with 10 points — answered with a putback at the 5:30 mark, the Longhorns went ice cold. In fact, Stonewall wouldn’t hit another field goal the rest of the game, finishing 1-for-11 in the fourth period.
McCollum was fouled while shooting a 3-pointer, but could only hit one of three free throws to get Stonewall within one at 43-42.
After two free throws from Trent Lackey with 2:56 left cut the Crowder lead to 47-45, the Demons outscored Stonewall 5-0 the rest of the way.
“I was a little disappointed. We missed a lot of easy shots we’re going to make as the season goes on,” Moreland said.
Little and Jameson scored 17 each to lead Crowder while Brad Bowden added seven points and a team-high 10 rebounds. Little added eight boards while Perry had nine rebounds and four blocks.
“Their size really hurt us, but I think we’re going to get better as the year goes on,” Moreland said.
Stonewall hosts Colbert Friday night.