AIKEN --- Starter Justina Tyler remained in the game for the Aiken girls basketball team throughout the fourth quarter of a 74-29 blowout win over South Aiken.
Aiken coach Aubrey Pompey's decision to leave the senior point guard on the court with the game well in hand didn't come out of any hatred against the rival Thoroughbreds. Pompey said Tyler simply needed the work.
The 5-foot-5 Tyler was a starter last season, but it was on the junior varsity squad. The Lady Hornets lost all five starters from last season's state quarterfinal team, and there's little time for the newcomers to learn how to take their place.
"We're a very diffferent team from last year," Pompey said. "There are things we could do last year that we can't even think about doing right now."
So Tyler, who was called up to the varsity squad for the postseason a year ago, got as much playing time as possible, distributing the ball, running plays and throwing in a few no-look entry passes against an outmatched South Aiken team.
"We've got a lot of work to do," Tyler said. "It's going to take some time, but we'll get back there. We've got some girls who haven't played basketball long, and it's my job out there to keep everything organized."
The inexperienced Lady Hornets had no trouble against South Aiken and built a 14-7 lead in the first quarter. They doubled up the home team by halftime at 34-17 and allowed only three points in the third quarter.
Pompey spent the second half substituting guards liberally, and the depth allowed the visiting team to put constant pressure on South Aiken. It paid off in turnovers and fast-break points.
"Coming into the season that's one of the things we wanted to do because of our depth," Pompey said.
The constant line changes allowed for 11 different Lady Hornets to score in the game. Junior Kashonda Henderson turned in a game-high 13 points, while senior forward Deidre Price added 12.
South Aiken's Courtney Williams led the home team with 10 points.
Reach Billy Byler at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.