LOCUST FORK — Opening-game jitters. It can drive players, and therefore coaches, to distraction — especially in front of full bleachers at home.
Locust Fork's girls battled that in the first half of Thursday's season opener against Briarwood Christian, as their shooting touch went ice cold. But the Hornets found their groove after halftime, as their shooting improved to life them to a 59-39 victory over the Lions.
Three Locust Fork payers scored in double figures, led by freshman Ashlyn Adkins with 12 points. She shot 50 percent (5-for-10) from the floor, including a pair of key 3-pointers in the second half that helped the Hornets pull away from the Lions.
Selena Hart added 11 points, and Jamie Gail Hudson scored 10. Kasi McMillan grabbed 13 rebounds to go with eight points.
Sluggish starts aside, it was a good opener for a Hornet squad with six seniors on the roster, five of whom have started for at least two seasons But coach Barbara Roy could tell that her girls were nervous in front of the home fans.
"I was a little disappointed in our rebounding, even though Kasi had 13, And our free throws — that's usually one of our strong points," Roy said. "But they were nervous."
The Hornets were a frigid 8-for-18 (44 percent) at the foul line, and 3-for-20 (15 percent) from 3-point land.
But Locust Fork's size and power kept Briarwood at bay. The Hornets had 17 steals, and kept turnovers to a minimum with just seven.
Lions guard Molly McKenzie did her best to keep her team in the game, as she led all scorers with 22 points that included five 3-pointers. Outside shooting by Briarwood (1-1) kept the margin manageable until the fourth quarter, when Locust Fork reeled off nine straight points early.
The Hornets host J.B. Pennington on Tuesday.