According to early reviews, so far so good.
The Lady Ramblers cranked up the defense and used a huge second quarter to pull away from visiting Ringgold, 68-39, in a preseason game at LaFayette Tuesday night.
LaFayette led 18-12 after one quarter, but put the clamps on the Lady Tigers from there on out.
The Lady Ramblers scored the first nine points of the second quarter, eventually turning it into a 20-1 run before Ringgold was able to get two baskets in the final 44 seconds of the half.
Just like that the narrow six-point lead had mushroomed into a rock-solid 22-cushion at the break.
We went from a zone press to a man press and Ringgold had a tough time adjusting," Swanson said. "I wanted to see how this group would respond if we change defenses like we did last year. They passed the test."
Things got no better for Ringgold in the third quarter. After a quick exchange of baskets, LaFayette reeled off 10 more unanswered points to go ahead 51-19 midway through the period. Keisha Ward's bank shot 3-pointer gave LaFayette its biggest lead at 35 points late in the period.
A predominantly freshman lineup played the entire fourth quarter and held its own against a much bigger Ringgold five.
"We played with great effort and intensity," Swanson said, whose team forced the Lady Tigers into 30 turnovers. "I have been preaching effort and execution and both were really there tonight. We're in a little better shape than I thought we would be."
Keri O'Neal had 17 points and 11 rebounds in three quarters of action while Brittany Crump added 16 points and five boards. Ward had one of her best nights in LaFayette orange, scoring 11 points while playing solid defense.
"Keisha was a big surprise," Swanson said. "We got her out a little late because of cross country, but I'm very proud of how she played tonight. I'm glad we won, but there is still plenty of stuff we can work on. A 30-point win or not, we're still 0-0 right now."
In the nightcap, Ringgold came out sporting the label "Running Tigers" on the back of their warmups, then proceeded to live up to that new nickname. Their fast-paced, up-tempo frustrated the Ramblers most of the night in an 86-55 win.
The Tigers go breathing room early, forcing a dozen LaFayette turnovers and using a late run to lead 25-12 after eight minutes and increased the lead to 48-33 at intermission.
The Ramblers actually outscored Ringgold 40-39 over the middle two quarters and Diaunte McSears' 3-point buzzer beater at the end of the third quarter sliced the lead to 12 as LaFayette tried to forge its way back into the game.
But the Tigers forced three turnovers and scored six points in the first 35 seconds of the fourth before the Ramblers could even get the ball past the timelime. The run eventually climbed to 14-0 as the coaches emptied the benches. Ringgold would outscore LaFayette 22-3 in the final period to pull away.
"I thought we played hard and our varsity guys made a little run there to cut it to 12, but we had decided before the game to play the young guys at the end," said LaFayette head coach Rob Neal, whose Ramblers committed 42 turnovers in the game. "We kind of knew coming in that Ringgold was going to run, but we've got to be a lot more disciplined on defense. We committed way too many fouls and had too many times when we were just careless with the ball and that will always get you beat."
Tyler Holt led Ringgold with 18 points. Lance Ridley added 17 while Logan Holland had 14.
McSears paced LaFayette with 14, including three 3-pointers. Kota Dixon added 11 in the loss while T.J. Gilliland finished with eight.
Both LaFayette teams will compete in the Dade County tournament beginning on Wednesday, Nov. 21