JOHNSTOWN - When the Fulton-Montgomery Community College women's basketball team takes the court for the second half, the Lady Raiders will bring back everyone except Takima Lucky.
Here's the catch.
She was their leading scorer.
Fulton-Montgomery Community College’s Cheryl Osborne goes up for a shot as teammate Sherice Gayle looks on during a women’s basketball game in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan)
"She fell on some hard personal times at home," Lady Raiders coach Kevin Jones said. "She couldn't make it back up for the winter term so she won't be able to play in the second half."
However, Jones doesn't expect that to hamper his team as the Lady Raiders kick off the second half of their season Friday against Adirondack Community College.
The Lady Raiders last faced Adirondack in their third game of the season, a 74-42 win Nov. 6.
"We play with five on the court and the kids that are back are really excited about what we can do," Jones said. "We've got some great pieces. I think this will cause other kids to step up and we'll have more kids work hard toward the ultimate goal of winning the region."
The Lady Raiders are well on their way toward competing for the regional title in March. They have an 11-1 record and are ranked fifth in the latest NJCAA poll. Their only loss was to Mohawk Valley Community College - ranked third -on Nov. 20.
They will see Mohawk Valley again Feb. 23 in the last game of the regular season.
Jones said he expects the Lady Raiders to be able to weather the loss of Lucky due to their balance on the floor as he said they were getting scoring from someone different every night.
"When different people are scoring, I think we're sharing the ball wall," Jones said. "As always, in any sport you're knocking on wood and hoping you stay injury free."
The Lady Raiders are scheduled to return to the FM campus today and they will have five days to prepare for their game against Adirondack. Their last game was Dec. 9, a 91-58 victory over Corning Community College.
"It's going to be a few-game recovery to get back to where we were," Jones said. "A month off is difficult. In basketball more than a week is difficult to come back from. But if we get through this first few with limited mistakes and playing hard, then we'll be fine."
And fitting into some new roles with Lucky's departure. Jones said he can see Cheryl Osborne, who was a key player as a freshman a year ago stepping up with more scoring. Jones said Kassandra Flowers and Sherice Gayle also had some big offensive games.
Defensively, he said the Lady Raiders will try to take the opponents' point guards out of the game to disrupt their offensive flow.
But in order to make a run at the regional title, the Lady Raiders will need contributions from everyone on the roster.
"It's going to be everything," Jones said. "I feel the teams that are there at the end of the year play good defense. We're going to get after it defensively. ... We're going to stress that when we come back."