The Lebanon Lady Tigers knew they had a tough challenge on their hands when they hosted Hamilton Heights Friday night.
But the hosts did what they needed to do, getting strong performances from numerous girls in a 59-44 win.
"We knew coming in that this was the defending state runner-up and they lost a lot, but they have a lot back too, especially with (returning starters Haley) Cook and (Kiley) Walters," Lebanon head coach Beth DeVinney said. "Those two kids alone are ridiculous and it is hard to guard them. Cook put up 41 on Western Boone and after watching that game I was thinking 'Oh my goodness, she can score on anyone.' We really focused on her, tried to keep her out of the lane. ... Early for us was a struggle, and even though this was kind of ugly tonight, coming out of the holidays it was a great win for us."
As tough as Cook is, averaging 23 points a game, the Tigers managed to keep her in check most of the contest.
She finished with 12 points on 3-of-10 shooting, but shot just 1-of-6 for three points after the first quarter. Kassidi Cadle had Cook most of the night defensively.
"You can't say enough about Kassidi," DeVinney said. "She is one of those kids that will do whatever you tell her to. She is by far and away our best perimeter defender, while Carly (Greene) is probably our best interior defender. We are starting to put the pieces together to build toward a sectional now and things are starting to come together."
Lebanon led by four after a quarter and nine at the half.
The Huskies cut the lead to two at 35-33 with 3:57 left in the third quarter after back-to-back 3-pointers by Caitlyn Hays, but the Tigers went on a 20-4 run over the next 6:58 to put the game away.
For more of this story, read Saturday's Lebanon Reporter.