Girls Basketball Uses Fourth Quarter To Top Braves

Posted on December 13, 2019 in Girl's Basketball, Winter Sports

By Scott Hunt Chronicle-Tribune

CONVERSE – Listening closely to the coaches, there may have been some confusion in determining the outcome of Tuesday’s girls basketball game between Maconaquah and Oak Hill.

Braves’ fourth-year coach P.J. Hatcher was excited and encouraged by the effort and fight shown by his very young team while Eagles’ coach Todd Law fell on the far-opposite side of the excitement spectrum.

“Don’t color-coat it, we were awful,” Law succinctly said. “We came out, we didn’t play with effort. I was extremely unhappy in the first half with our effort and when you don’t play with effort everything is going to be bad.”

While Oak Hill’s performance didn’t nearly match the Law’s expectations, at least for the first three quarters, the Golden Eagles turned in a stout defensive effort in the fourth and earned their sixth-straight win, 41-32 and sent Maconaquah to its fifth-consecutive defeat.

Even so, Hatcher tried to lift the spirits of his all-underclass team during his postgame speech.

“Even though it’s another loss – that’s not success for us – success for us is us taking the next step forward,” he said. “We took like a huge leap forward.

“I don’t know why we’re as down and dejected as we are. You guys gotta realize this is a quality team that’s played a lot of quality basketball for a lot of years and you guys went toe-to-toe with them,” Hatcher continued. “We’re giving up at least three if not five inches (of height) on the average for everybody. … It don’t make you feel any better because you still got a loss. They wanted it bad and it stings, but you all grew so much.”

Oak Hill led 6-5 after the first quarter and extended out to a 19-12 advantage by halftime.

But the third quarter belonged to Maconaquah as the Braves forced five-quick turnovers, seven total in the period, and put together an 11-0 run to move in front 23-19 in less than three minutes. Three-pointers by Averi Miller and Alex Merritt, followed by a three-point play by Lilly Maple and a steal and layup from Monica Moore accounted for the Braves’ charge.

The Eagles then turned to Indiana All-Star candidate Taylor Westgate looking for an offensive spark, and the Taylor University-bound senior delivered with a field goal and a pair of free throws to even the score at 23.

Moore scored a pair of two-pointers, one on each side of a Westgate free throw to put the Braves up 27-24 with under two minutes to play in the third. Westgate scored another bucket before Madison Wilson scored for Maconaquah and the period ended with the Braves holding a 29-26 advantage.

The tide turned swiftly and decisively in Oak Hill’s favor over the final eight minutes.

Westgate and Madison Wilson swapped two pointers in the early going to keep Maconaquah up by three, but back-to-back baskets by Kate Hornocker started a 10-0 run for Oak Hill and the Braves didn’t score another point for nearly four minutes. By the time McKenna Wilson’s free throw with 1:17 to play ended the drought, Oak Hill was holding on to a comfortable-ish, 38-32 advantage.

Coleena Selleck scored the Eagles final three points on free throws to seal the nine-point win.

“We turned it over 11 times in the first half, nine in the second and just the silliest turnovers: throwing the ball out of bounds and not jump stopping, dribbling into traffic and picking the ball up,” Law lamented. “It’s no way to say it other than we weren’t ready to play tonight and we were extremely fortunate to win this game. They outplayed us for 28 out of 32 minutes and we got away with it.”

As she’s been for all four years at Oak Hill, the 6-1 Westgate was the difference maker. She hit 6-of-16 field goals and 7-of-11 from the foul line to score a game-high 19 points. Westgate also grabbed 16 rebounds and led the Eagles to a decisive, 45-22 advantage on the backboards.

Hornocker, a 5-11 junior, pulled down 12 boards to go with her seven points and the Eagles collectively had 17 offensive rebounds.

“We’re not going to produce length. We’re not going to be like go-go gadget and sprout arms and stuff,” Hatcher said of his team, who’s tallest girl Merritt at 5-9. “We have to use our anticipation and our changing defenses and use what we have because that’s what God’s gifted us with.

“I felt like towards the end that’s where we got a little more hesitant or we didn’t execute as well,” he continued. “Again, you’re up and it’s kind of like unforeseen territory against a great team, a great program, then all of a sudden you’re down and they’re starting to come back on you. How do you respond? We just didn’t know how exactly to respond.”

Maple led the Braves with 10 points, Merritt finished with seven points and a team-high seven rebounds while Miller chipped in with six. Moore finished with four points and three assists and she and Maple each had three steals.

The Braves committed just 12 turnovers compared to Oak Hill’s 20.

“This is a young group of girls who have an amazing amount of talent, and I thought they played more unified than they have here recently.” Hatcher said. “There are so many positives. … These girls are full of grit. They just have to grind it out and be in situations like these games are teaching us, how to persevere and what it takes to win when it’s in crunch time and have that pressure.”

Abby Shaw finished with eight points and five rebounds for Oak Hill while Carlee Biddle scored three points and had five boards. Selleck and Westgate both had three assists.

“The last four games or so we’d really been seeing consistent steps forward,” Law said. “We played a really great half of basketball against Peru, we stepped that up Friday night and played three-and-a-half quarters very well against Elwood.

“The first thing on the board tonight was let’s play 32 minutes,” he added. “We just were very flat. It’s just one of those nights. We’re going to put this one behind us and move on because we’ve obviously got a very tough opponent coming up on (Saturday) and we’ve got to get ready for them.”

Oak Hill (7-3) travels to cross-county and Central Indiana Conference-rival Mississinewa (6-3) on Saturday for a 12:30 p.m. tipoff.

Maconaquah (2-6) hosts Tri-Central on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. then Lewis Cass on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.

Leave a Comment