The State Fair Lady Roadrunners led by as many as 19 points Saturday against the Carl Albert Lady Vikings and held on for a 63-52 win, improving to 2-0 on the season.
With a 50-39 lead with 4:25 remaining in the third quarter, coach Kevin Bucher elected to play five bench players to give the starters rest and allow other players a chance to get experience.
Freshmen Ahjana Oakes, Kiante Johnson, Danai’ Cole and Bre’Anna Lamar, and sophomore Seara Clayborn all took the floor.
During a 3:17 span, the Lady Roadrunners only managed a pair of free throws from Oakes and a Lamar 3-pointer from the left corner before Kendra Boone came in for Johnson.
Boone went to the free throw line shortly after rejoining the game and made both to give SFCC a 57-42 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
A mix of starters and bench players played the fourth quarter and the Lady Roadrunners only managed six points, allowing the Lady Vikings to get within 10 with about a minute remaining.
“I’m trying to rest some people and that’s what I’m trying to tell the players in there, I said, ‘You know, I’m giving you playing time opportunities to show yourself that you want playing time,’” Bucher said. “… We didn’t have some players step up, the lead got down and I rotated our sophomores back in.”
Five of those points came from starter Zhanesha Dickerson, who knocked down a 3-pointer from the right wing for the first points of the quarter and added two free throws in the middle of the quarter.
Dickerson led SFCC with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Dickerson went 2-for-5 from long range, with her first coming in the first minute and a half of the game to cap off a 7-0 run to start the game.
“She played much better offensively and defensively, and that’s the Zhanesha we have to have if we’re going to go deep in our league,” Bucher said.
Boone added 11 points and eight rebounds. Thelma “TuTu” Williams had 10 points and five rebounds before leaving the game with an ankle injury with 8:03 remaining in the game.
“She played really well and then that happened,” Bucher said. “She may be out for several days.”
Many of the Lady Roadrunners’ first-half points came after offensive rebounds.
Williams and Boone started the game with second-chance buckets and Dickerson pulled down one of her five offensive rebounds and put it back up for two points to give SFCC a 12-2 lead only three and a half minutes into the game.
SFCC scored 16 of its 38 first-half points after an offensive rebound. The Lady Roadrunners only got four second-chance points in the second half.
“Our rebounding wasn’t very good compared to what we need to be if we’re wanting to be a very good team,” Bucher said.
SFCC will play at Butler Community College at 6 p.m. Monday before playing Wabash Valley College and Kaskaskia College on Friday and Saturday, respectively, in the Three Rivers Classic.
Butler beat the Bethany College JV 94-31 in its only game of the season so far.
Wabash Valley College is 2-0 and Kaskaskia College hasn’t played a regular season game yet.
Jason Strickland can be reached at 660-530-0147 or on Twitter @J_Strick_Sports.