With emotions running high and facing their first home game without a dear friend and teammate Callee Henson — who tragically passed away in a vehicle accident just before the new year — the Lady Tigers of Stockton readied to face the Lady Panthers of Forsyth the evening of Thursday, Jan. 7.
Before the game, Stockton R-I School District superintendent Doug Crawford addressed all in attendance to share a message of solidarity, support and hope in regard to the tragic passing of the dedicated Lady Tigers varsity teammate, followed by a heartfelt moment of silence.
As the Lady Tigers hit the court, the first quarter was a fast-paced push from both teams offensively as Stockton put 16 points on the board.
The Lady Panthers would answer with 14 of their own as the two teams matched one another up and down the court.
Struggling through the middle of the game and pushing through a complex mix of emotions, the Lady Tigers would only find the basket once in the second quarter as the Lady Panthers of Forsyth controlled the lead. Heading into halftime the score was 30-18 in Forsyth’s favor.
The Lady Tigers would find a better rhythm in the third quarter, putting nine more points on the board as they adjusted to the pressure from the Forsyth defense.
Finding more momentum and avoiding turnovers in the fourth allowed the SHS varsity girls to find the bucket several more times, putting up 15 points in the fourth quarter with a more consistent team rhythm.
Despite 16 points from Stockton’s Jenna Rickman and 11 points from Summer Kenney, the Lady Tigers came up short against the Lady Panthers by a final score of 62-42
Crediting the Lady Panthers with sound defense and an aggressive pace throughout the game, SHS Lady Tigers’ varsity coach commented on the opposition with a nod to the visiting Forsyth varsity team.
“We knew they were going to play some 1-2-2, the press and trap out of it,” Kenney said of the Lady Panthers’ gameplay. “Forsyth likes to push the tempo a lot more, so we had to work on transitional play a little more.”
Changing topics and speaking to the tragic loss of Henson and her passing’s impact on the team, Kenney shared his thoughts and observations on the waves of emotion felt by all who knew the enthusiastic senior teammate.
“It's hard to put into words what the loss of Callee meant to all of us,” Kenney said. “It was very emotional for everyone. She was a great kid, a great teammate, and an even better person. You could see by the amazing circle of friends she had that she had touched many, many lives. It hasn't been about basketball for us, it has been about family. This team is very close, and Callee was a big part of that. This group of girls have very strong families and friendships. Their love for Callee and her family has been strong. We do miss her, but she will always be with us. Our thoughts and prayers are with her and her family. Once a Tiger, always a Tiger.”