By KEVIN THOMPSON
INGALLS — Just a few months removed from finishing third in state, the Ingalls Lady Bulldogs had something to prove.
After losing three starters from that squad, this year's version picked up where they left off, with a 53-24 win over visiting Moscow on Friday night.
It was apparent immediately that they were aggressive on both sides of the floor. They converted seven of their first eight shots and took an 18-4 lead at the first break.
Meanwhile, their taller, stingier zone defense stifled the Lady Wildcats (4-for-24 shooting) and dominated the boards (23-9) to take a 25-4 lead at the half to cruise to the win.
That was the formula Ingalls used last season when it went 23-3, and it seemed to be back again, led by some veterans and a newcomer.
Rebecca Wyatt made her presence felt, grabbing 21 rebounds (10 in the second period) and scoring six points, as Moscow had no answer against the 5-11 junior.
Junior Tara Whipple survived a rolled ankle late in the opening quarter and came back to score 13 points.
Senior Deisy Estrada had eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers.
And freshman Kaisha Batman got her varsity career off to an auspicious start, leading all scorers with 16 points, including nine in the first.
Coach Roger Thurlow said the Bulldogs might not be as big nor as deep as last season, but the philosophy remains the same — pressure defense and working the ball.
"We weren't quite up to last year's standards defensively, but I think our shooting has improved from the outside," he said.
Last year they made just a couple of threes; Friday they hit four.
"We went from more of an inside team to an outside team on offense. Our trap still needs a lot of work," Thurlow said.
But as the season progresses, all the pieces look as though they will fall into place, he added.
Thurlow said one goal was to attack the boards hard against a younger team, and Wyatt answered the challenge with a vengeance.
"I was so amazed at how hard she played the first half and got no fouls. Her mind for the game, mixed with her athleticism, makes her a great rebounder because she can sense where the ball is going to be," he said.
Without Wyatt dominating the boards like that, he said, the game would have been a lot closer.
Whipple was dominating as well, driving to the hole and pulling up for jumpers.
And Batman's play, though not unexpected, was a huge plus in this first game.
"She's very smart and knows the game. She made a few freshman mistakes, but as soon as she did she made the adjustment," Thurlow said.
Ingalls shot 46 percent, hit 10-of-16 from the line and snagged 40 rebounds while committing just 12 turnovers.
Not too bad a start, he said.
Having the dynamic duo of Batman and Whipple, he said, gives the Bulldogs a dimension they lacked last year.
Moscow coach Shawn Anderson knows his team was out-sized and less experienced. Getting down quickly caused panic in his young team, and it led to poor shooting.
"We rushed things, turned the ball over a few times then took some bad shots," he said. "As young players, we'll get better at that."
Most of the game, the Lady Wildcats had freshmen and sophomores on the floor, so he knows the growing will happen.
Kelsi Mueller, a freshman guard, led Moscow with 10 points and seven rebounds. Anderson said they'll be making her a bigger part of their offense.
With this team, Thurlow said, the Ingalls goal of getting to state is still there, as is the potential to be very good again this year. The luxury of having outside shooters to balance the inside is one key element.
"I don't know if we're as good a team as last year, but this group works hard. The potential's there," Thurlow said. "With a little work, we can compete with anybody out there."
Moscow 4 4 11 5 — 24
Ingalls 18 7 16 12 — 53
MOSCOW — Mueller 4 0-0 10, M. Cecelia's 1 0-0 2, Bucher o 1-2 1, Davidson 2 0-0 4, Haines 3 0-3 6, Dobie 0 1-2 1. Totals 10 2-7 24.
INGALLS — Estrada 2 2-2 8, Andazola 1 1-2 4, Batman 7 1-2 16, Whipple 4 5-8 13, Wyatt 3 2-4 8, Galaviz 1 0-0 2. Totals 14 10-16 53.
3-pt goals — Moscow 2 (Mueller 2), Ingalls 4 (Estrada 2, Andazola 1, Batman 1). Rebounds — Moscow 15 (Mueller 7), Ingalls 40 (Wyatt 21). Fouled out — None.