Clift seemed to especially enjoy working with center Rylee Smith, also back from last year’s state semifinalist team. Clift passed it to Rylee Smith, in the low post twice during the second half, and both times Smith then passed it right back to Clift for open jumpshots.
“She’s experienced and she’s got pretty good size and she’s pretty smart with the ball,” Daniel said of Smith.
“Her (Clift) and Miranda (Stiles), they like to use Rylee a lot, and they’re comfortable doing that. We just kind of sometimes forget and go away from it. We found it and it helped us quite a bit.”
Madi Slawson scored 10 for Kiowa, knocking down a 3-pointer on a pass from Clift in the third, and new starting forward Tori Gillispie scored 8.
As Kiowa’s offense improved throughout the game, Stuart’s offense began to break down against Kiowa’s half-court defense. Kayla Smith had dominated in the paint in the first half, scoring 14 points on six baskets and two free throws in the first 16 minutes, but she knocked down just one second-half basket en route to a 23-point game.
“We kind of started freaking out, because we’re new,” Kayla said.
“We rushed a little bit too much (in the second half). If we would’ve slowed down, I think it would’ve been a little bit different.”
The Lady Hornets don’t have anyone tall enough to be a true post player, but the team got 19 points mostly out of the paint from McKay Barton, making her and Kayla Smith the most likely to start at forward. Kayla said the Lady Hornets will try to slow their offense down this season, giving opponents fewer chances to score.
To make this new offense work, Stuart coach Melinda Dobson said the Lady Hornets will need more of the kind of interior presence Kayla provided Tuesday.