By Kevin Wilson
ELIDA — Normally a seven-point second quarter and 15 first-half turnovers would be a cause for concern for the Elida Lady Tigers.
But visiting Tucumcari had a six-point first half and 27 turnovers, so it was easy to shrug off.
Halee Best was the only player in double figures, scoring 18 to lead Elida to a 65-12 blowout win in the opener for both teams at Elida High School.
Keisha Chenault, Casey Ford and Kodi Armitage had nine each for the Lady Tigers, who used a harassing press to force Tucumcari into 45 turnovers.
“I didn’t think it would work that well for us,” Elida coach Dan Howard said of his team’s press. “It seemed like we rotated very well.”
The game was never in doubt, as Elida trapped the Lady Rattlers throughout in a 23-2 first period and held Tucumcari scoreless for a seven-minute span bridging the first and second quarters.
An experienced Lady Tiger team found the Lady Rattlers’ two weaknesses — inexperience and shaky ball handling — and exploited both.
“We’re very young,” Tucumcari coach Alicia Trujillo said. “I have a team with no (varsity) experience whatsoever.”
Erin Kirksey had four points to lead Tucumcari, with four others scoring two each.
Elida used its press at several points throughout the game, but pulled back for the most part after forcing 21 first-quarter turnovers. Howard said his team wasn’t trying to run up the score, but he wanted to get the Lady Tigers used to playing in a style he feels they’ll be successful.
“We’re going to have to rely on our transition game, rotate, make everyone hustle and give them 32 minutes of it every time,” Howard said. “That’s the way we need to play at this stage of the game.”
Elida is off until next weekend’s Farwell Christmas Invitational, while Tucumcari heads to the Clayton Tournament this weekend.