2017 Stories

By Jordan Dubrof

Roswell, Ga. The 1984 American League West Champion Chicago White Sox used the motto “Win ugly,” to describe their unflashy, rugged, but effective style of play.  This motto certainly applied in spades to the Lady Cougars on this night, as they edged traditional AAC rival Atlanta Area School by a 23– 22 score in overtime won by the Lady Cougars.

The first period began with the Lady Panthers drawing first blood as all purpose guard Malone wheeled and dealed her way to two early baskets.  Cottage worked hard on defense, forcing a number of turnovers, but tight rims and miscues often prevented the home town team from capitalizing.  A determined AAS rode Malone hard, as the crafty guard accounted for all 9 of her squad’s first quarter points.  The lead see-sawed between a two and four point advantage for the Lady Panthers throughout the first eight minutes.  Cottage demonstrated balanced scoring as Maria Knezek and center Shakirah Wazeerud-Din both made field goals, and Brandy Michelle FInnell added a free throw.  The first stanze ended with a score of Lady Panthers 9, TCS 5.

In the second period of play, Cottage turned up the defensive volume even more, picking up the guards at halfcourt, and closing off all of the passing lanes well.  Harassed into a flurry of turnovers, AAS ground out only 5 points, while Cottage enjoyed their very best offensive outing of the game, lighting up the scoreboard for 12 second quarter points.  Knezek scored on daring drives to the hoop, while Shakirah Wazeedud-Din did her damage in the paint, most often from inbound plays.  Both players tallied six points each in the big quarter, allowing TCS to claim a 17  – 14 margin at the half.

In the third period, the Lady Panthers extinguished Cottage’s offensive fireworks.  Apart from a Wazeerud-Din post move, the home town team would not record a point.  Fortunately, tough trapping defense denied Malone any clean looks at the basket, but other teammates took up the scoring slack, as the Cottage offensive deep freeze allowed the visitors to knot the score at 21 each.  The final quarter played out with all of the finesse of a desperate street fight.  Brandy Finnell crashed to the hardwoods, prompting the official to initiate the concussion protocol, which removed her from the game.  Adding insult to injury, the zebra stripes also blew the whistle on Knezek for the fifth time, prompting her disqualification for the remainder of the evening.  Struggling with two key offensive contributors sidelined, Cottage struggled through a drought of missed shots, and turnovers.  Fortunately, the defense held firm, surrendering only two points for the entire eight minutes.  With just over 2 seconds left in the game, and the score knotted at 21, AAS received the ball for the final possession, but Malone could not free herself to get the final shot off, thereby necessitating a four minute overtime.

The storyline of the second half, menacing defense and turnovers, remained in effect for the final minutes of the game.  With under two minutes left, the Lady Panthers were fouled in a fast break situation, and managed to nail one of the two free throws to secure the lead.  In the remaining seconds, enough action transpired to fill a large novel.  Each time received opportunities, only to get whistled up for violations, or to see the defense step up, and take the ball away.  In the final frantic seconds, Cottage inbounded with a little over 8 seconds on the clock.  Natalie Yager worked the ball into Wazeerud-Din, who missed the post move off the glass.  Wazeerud-Din followed her miss, and received a hack across her shooting arm as she attempted the put back.  Now on the line with all of the pressure in the world on her shoulders, and the thundering stomping of the AAS contingent ringing in her ears, the sophomore center lined up the ball, cranked up a rainbow reminiscent of Boston Celtics great Robert Parish, and watched as the ball splashed through the net to tie the game.  One down and one to go.  Wazeerud-Din dug down deep, let fly with a second rainbow style free throw that also found nothing but net.  AAS needed to make something happen, so they called time, but with just under three seconds to go, they could not navigate the full court as Cottage employed their full court defense.  When the buzzer sounded, Cottage secured their first overtime win of the season.

In conference, the Lady Cougars now stand with a 3 – 2 record, and now stand in sole possession of second place in the AAC.  This game marks the first time in school history that the Lady Cougars swept a regular season series from the Lady Panthers.

GAME NOTES (note these statistics are unofficial, pending review of the game video)
Again suffering from a short bench, Maxine Moore found herself thrust into a number of pressure situations throughout the evening, but particularly in the fourth quarter and overtime period.  Moore played stalwart defense to help slow down Malone and company.

Natalia Hoeve pulled a first in the history of Cottage sports.  Fresh from her five victories at the AAC swim meet on Saturday, where she secured a spot in the GISA Middle School state meet, Hoeve attended a swim practice, before retuning to campus to check into a varsity basketball game.  Hoeve demonstrated aggression by picking up a foul in pursuit of a steal.   The stat line does not provide a laundry list of tallies, but Hoeve picked on the point spot of defense, as part of the tag team effort to short circut the Malone machine.

Julia Baumohl took on sixth man duties this evening, demonstrating her versatility by playing both the guard and post positions.  Baumohl did not convert on any of her shots, but she hauled down a rebound, a steal, and a number of forced jump balls.  As usual, she showed no hesitation in sacrificing her body to the hardwoods, and played the entirety of the fourth quarter and overtime.

Maria Knezek drove her way to 10 points, while also corralling 6 steals before fouling out in the fourth quarter.  Knezek also recorded an assist and tied up a few loose balls.

Alex Nebel received the starting nod again, and began the contest as Malone’s shadow.  Nebel hit the boards for an offensive rebound, knocked the ball away for 3 steals, and threaded the needle for 3 assists.

Natalie Yager stole 5 balls, and hit the boards for 4 rebounds.  She also effectively closed off the passing lanes, and by the end of the game, took on her end of the tag team in the gang effort on Malone.

Brandy Michelle Finnel converted on an early free throw to help keep in team within spitting distance of AAS in the first quarter.  She hit the boards for 7 rebounds, while helping to lock down the paint from driving guards.

Shakirah Wazeerud-Din led her team in both the scoring and rebounding department, ringing up 12 points, and adding 13 rebounds (5 from the offensive end).  The center also added a steal, and 4 big blocked shots to her totals for the night.



By Jordan Dubrof

The Lady Cougars took their act to Post Road in Cumming to resume their friendly GA – 400 rivalry with the Lady Rams of Covenant Christian Academy.  Buoyed by their recent victory against conference foe MSA, the Lady Cougars now faced a highly experienced and guard oriented squad.  In the early going, the visitors experienced trouble in getting their offense on track, as stifling defense and miscues short circuited their efforts.  On the other side of the court, hot shooting from the duo of Lady Rams shooting guards allowed the  home-towners to ring up 10 points.  Fortunately some timely stops on defense, and a steal at half court by Maria Knezek, limited the potential damage and kept the game within reach.

During the second quarter, Cottage jumped onto the scoreboard on the strength of two post moves courtesy of center Shakirah Wazeerud-Din and a pretty 13 foot jump shot by guard Alex Nebel to perfectly complete an inside out play.  Unfortunately timely three pointers by the Lady Rams’ Callie Washington and Lydia Arnold allowed Covenant to extend their advantage into halftime.

If each game serves as a learning experience and contains a particular lesson, the second half fit that bill for the Lady Cougars.

“This season we are working to the point where our offense can feature action out of the low post,” explained Coach Johnson. “For a variety of reasons, this plan has not successfully come together for long stretches of time during real games.   Something clicked during the late third and fourth quarter today though.  Consistency in this one area will allow us to score more points regardless of the identity of our opponent.”

During this stretch run, Wazeerud-Din and Brandy Finnell  both got the ball on the blocks, played off of one another and  helped their team to ring up 15 second half points en route to a season high 21 by the time the final buzzer sounded.

The team looks forward to a road trip next week as away action takes them to the lairs of GISA opponents Brandon Hall and LaGrange Academy.


Nebel resumed her customary sixth man role, taking the reigns at the point guard position.  Nebel exhibited growing confidence in her jump shot, nailing a 13-footer to record her first points of her varsity career.  Nebel evidenced her defensive effort with a steal from hot shooting guard Callie Washington.

Maria Knezek followed up her record breaking defensive performance against MSA with her hardest individual challenge to date, matching up against the supremely experienced and hard charging guard Lydia Arnold.  Knezek knocked the ball away to record 4 steals, while trailing her foe through a forest of screens.  Knezek also ripped down 4 rebounds (including 3 offensive) before a foot injury sidelined her in the later stages of the game.

Marissa Edwards gained another starting nod while shifting between frontcourt and backcourt roles.  The stat sheet credits Edwards with a rebound, but it cannot measure her growing comfort and adeptness in passing and handling the ball.

Maxine Moore also received a baptism by fire this afternoon.  As she checked  the game for  fourth quarter playing time, the eighth grade phenom found herself in the unenviable positon of taking the lead role in picking up the ever dangerous Lydia Arnold.  Moore ended the game with a rebound to her credit in addition to the valuable individual experience against a high flying opponent.

Bethany Lingle spelled teammate Brandy Michelle Finnell early on after she picked up a second foul.  Lingle grabbed 2 rebounds while also providing her patented transition defense to help diffuse the CCA fast break.

Julia Baumohl returned to the “scene of the crime,” the site of her first varsity appearance last year.  On that occasion, although not a member of the team, Baumohl volunteered to suit up so that the injury riddled squad could field the required five players. Today Baumohl made her presence felt off the boards where she tallied 8 rebounds (including 3 offensive).  She also supplemented her traditional frontcourt role with a spell in the backcourt for the first time this season.

Bri Worrell appeared in her last game for the Lady Cougars for this season.  Injured during the cross country season, and effectively sidelined per doctor’s orders until just recently, Worrell fully participated in practices since break, and also appeared in the match versus MSA.  Unfortunately, the pain in her foot persists, and per doctor’s advice, Worrell will take time off for further rest and rehabilitation in an effort to fully heal.  Worrell looks forward to a full recovery in order to return to track and field this spring, and to continue with cross country and hoops next year.  In a tearful  goodbye and the end of the game, the coaches and players thanked Bri for her service, commitment and wished her a full and complete recovery.

Natalie Yager assumed point guard duties for most of the game.  “Dishing the dime” for an assist, Yager also fought her way for 3 boards, and connected with a put back banker from an errant shot.  A steal and a deflection rounded out Yager’s stat line for the afternoon.   She also demonstrated growing confidence in pulling up from the top of the key when called for by the defensive set.

Brandy Michelle Finnell effectively worked a two man tandem with fellow frontcourt mate Wazeerud-Din to pack on effective one two punch.  Finnell scored 3 points on the strength of a post-up move and a foul shot.  At various points in the match Finnell assumed inbounding duties, brought the ball up the court, and hauled down rebounds.

Wazeerud-Din established a new personal and team high points for a single game with 14.  Connecting on a variety of baby hooks, tip-ins and drives to the hoop, Wazeerud-Din demonstrated a commitment to operating out of the low post.  She followed up with a team high 10 rebounds, including 3 on the offensive end.  Wazeerud-Din also added 2 blocked shots.



By Jordan Dubrof

The Cottage School Lady Cougars Took on Flint River Academy. Lady Wildcats Coach Lyle Cutchin stated this matchup against Flint River Academy was the most challenging opponent of the year. FRA boasts an accomplished GISA program; in five of the past six years the Wildcats won their region and advanced deeply into the state tournament. The game represents an early-season test against a seasoned, skilled and focused playoff caliber squad.  The game started out really rough with a full court press against the Cougars, who were held to only 11 points for the game.


Alex Nebel again received the starting nod at point guard. Nebel largely shouldered the burden of advancing against a finely tuned press in the first quarter.  Nebel completed the game with a rebound.

Bethany Lingle operated from the post, and shared the unenviable task of keeping the Wildcat frontcourt off the boards.  Lingle’s speed allowed her to short circuit two FRA fast break opportunities, while she also hauled in 6 rebounds (1 from the offensive glass).

Marissa Edwards demonstrated versatility in sliding between post and guard responsibilities on defense.  Edwards also advanced the ball into the teeth of Flint River’s defense from the half-court set in an inspired attempt to generate badly needed offensive momentum.  Edwards deflected a pass, and came up with a steal.

Brandy Finnell showed remarkable tenacity on the offensive boards, bringing down 3, while matching the total on the defensive side of the ledger.  Finnell looked to drive to the basket to force the issue on offense, while on other occasions, dropping back to help advance the ball against pressure defense.  Tenacity on the offensive glass allowed her a couple of trips to the foul line.

Maxine Moore saw minutes in the second quarter and in the second half of the match.  She helped to patrol the perimeter in the zone defense, while also prioritizing speed in transition to slow down the Wildcat’s fast break attack.

Maria Knezek played significant minutes off the bench, giving a lift to her team.  Knezek tallied 4 points for the second game in a row, on the strength of strong drives to complete fast break opportunities.  Maria also handed out 1 assist, hustled her way to 3 offensive boards, gathered a steal, and capped off the evening with 2 deflections.

Natalie Yager played highly limited minutes, in keeping with doctor’s orders.  In limited floor time Yager assumed point guard duties.  She fought her way to 2 rebounds, and fired off a jumper in traffic, while showing poise on defense.

Kristina Farthing suited up for the first time this season, and made her presence felt by hitting a three point harpoon from the top of the key.  Farthing added a rebound to her totals as well.

Shakirah Wazeerud-Din led her team in scoring by connecting on two fourth quarter buckets.  She added an emphatic blocked shot and 8 defensive rebounds, despite getting pegged with foul trouble early in the contest.


Atlanta, Ga. – The 2017-2018 edition of the Lady Cougars prowled the hardwoods for the first time this season, opening with a friendly scrimmage at The Howard School. “The coaching staffs of the two schools see eye to eye on this point,” offered Assistant Coach Tasha Johnson. “For a number of years now we both use this early season game as a way of evaluating where we are, and to give our players some live action experienced before the start of regular season play.”

In the opening minutes returning Atlanta Athletic Conference All Stars Katherine Bower and Tali Eplan-Fanner demonstrated their poise and experience by lighting up the scoreboard early. “We began the game with a new line-up, and it certainly takes time for players to get comfortable with their roles, and with each other,” stated Coach Cutchin after the game. “Katherine and Tali came out loaded for bear, and Howard capitalized on all of our early mistakes.” These scores included a pair of three point harpoons launched from international waters. “Once we settled down, cut down on the turnovers, and started to rebound the Howard offensive avalanche slowed and we found ourselves in a normal ballgame,” recalled veteran Brandy Michelle Finnell. TCS worked the ball around to get some good looks at the hoop, but to no avail in the first frame. Rookie center Bethany Lingle powered up a couple of shots from deep inside the paint, Natalie Yager hoisted a couple of short jumpers, and Sophomore newcomer Maria Knezek tired to convert on a semi-fast break. When the buzzer sounded the hometown Hawks boasted a 12 – 0 lead.

During the second quarter the visitors evidenced consistent rebounding and more patience on offense. Tight rims still plagued the Lady Cougars efforts, but during the period Lingle broke her team’s scoring drought with a put-back. Eighth grader Maxine Moore came off the bench to follow with a leaner, and Lingle quickly added another post move to pace the Cottage attack. Eplan-Fanner and Bower kept up their torrid shooting pace though, allowing the Hawks to expand their advantage.

The second half featured a much closer contest as Cottage used the halftime respite to fine tune their zone, by ensuring that they filled up some of the holes and seams that Howard exploited. Tightened defense and a more pass oriented approach helped to make for smoother floor play, but both teams still forced the issue on defense, as defenders continually found ways to swat the ball from the hands of the penetrators and shooters. In the third quarter, Brandy Finnell and senior rookie Marissa Edwards got quite active on the boards, while Lingle and Keznek added the scoring punch. Knezek nailed two free throws after corralling an offensive rebound. Lingle converted on another post move as she operated from the paint. Howard ground out only 8 points during the quarter. In the last quarter, Cottage edged the birds of prey by a point, as Finnell completed a power move, and Knezek scored on a breakaway lay-up. Howard added three points to their total as the game ended.


Alex Nebel took on point guard duties to start the game. In her first outing Nebel showed active hands, deflecting a couple of passes, and a willingness to operate against a determined defense.

Maxine Moore came off the bench to collect two points on the strength of a short field goal during the second quarter mini-run. Maxine became the first middle school student to score in the first game of the season since the fall of 2011 when Pam Lalo last pulled the trick.

Natalia Hoeve, another eighth grade varsity player also provided depth to the backcourt. The stats sheet records that Hoeve came up with a pretty steal during second half action.

Julia Baumohl made her debut as an “official” player for TCS. Last season Baumohl selflessly inserted herself into two early season games when injuries made it impossible for the squad to suit up enough players on game day. In this evening’s action, Baumohl spelled Lingle at the center spot. Julia ran the court effectively and squeezed off a couple of shots, but did not connect in this inaugural game.

Marissa Edwards played virtually every minute of the contest from the post positon on defense, and the wing on offense. What Edwards may lack in game experience, she made up for on grit and determination. Edwards fought her way to 10 rebounds (4 offensive), while also stealing the ball twice.

Maria Knezek also made her roundball debut in a most emphatic fashion. In addition to the 4 points described above, Knezek led the game with 5 steals, while also hauling in an offensive board, and continually going to the floor to collect loose balls.

Natalie Yager took on the sixth man role for this match, where she impacted the game with her typical activity. Yager led the team with 3 assists, coupled with 4 rebounds (2 from the offensive end). Yager also gained some great looks at the hoop, but the basketball gods conspired against her on this day.

Brandy Michelle Finnell played wire to wire, filling a variety of roles for the Cougars. Inbounding the ball, working the post in the half court set, and going after rebounds all entered into her job description. Finnell finished with 11 rebounds (3 offensive) and two points.

Bethany Lingle also proved her worth in her first game. Leading the team with 6 points, Lingle complemented her fierce post presence by adding 11 boards (including 4 offensive) to her team’s total. Bethany showed great poise in matching the physical play form the Howard frontcourt, and in running the floor baseline to baseline, which effectively stopped a number of Howard fast break opportunities.

Final Score – Howard 39 – TCS – 14

Howard Katherine Bower – 15 points, Tali Eplan – Fanner 9 points, Miles 6 points

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