Lady Tiger basketball was challenged by a quality Grandview Zebra team in Glen Rose on Saturday afternoon, but the ladies in red were determined to start their season off 1-0.
Glen Rose convincingly won the fourth quarter on the way to a 42-33 victory.
“We really needed to start the year strong,” said coach Sherre Hill. “We played intense until we got tired; we just have to play ourselves into shape. We played hard; we didn’t always play smart. For a first game, I think it’s definitely a step in the right direction.”
Senior point guard Reilly Junge started her campaign off fast with 18 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals.
“(The Zebras) were obviously in better shape than we were,” Junge said. “It was pretty hard, but once we got our momentum going we were alright. We’ve started 0-1 the past couple of years. Coach Hill told us to decide what type of team we were going to be; I think we proved we’re better this year.”
Other primary scorers were Shelby Rotan (8 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists), Kiffany Kelly (6 points, 5 rebounds, 5 steals) and Kayla Goebel (4 points, 6 rebounds, assist, 2 steals, block). Glen Rose also got points from Kelsey Potter (2 points, 7 rebounds, assist, 3 steals, 2 blocks), Destiny Ponce (2 points, 3 rebounds, assist, 4 steals) and Kate Sammons (2 points, 2 rebounds).
The Lady Tigers managed to win the first quarter 7-6 despite some turnovers, trouble finishing around the hoop and a 0-8 clip at the free throw line.
“A lot of times games come down to free throws,” Junge said. “We just need to get in the gym and practice more on them.”
Hill wasn’t overly concerned in that regard, and Glen Rose did much better at the line after halftime.
“We were uncommonly poor at the free throw line in the first half (2-14); our goal at the varsity level is 75 percent,” the coach said. “We’ll get better there and improved conditioning will help.”
Goebel delivered an early layup in the frame and Kelly had one late. Rotan drilled a wing three off a Junge assist and Sammons took a charge.
“I love to see that from Kate, and Destiny took a charge, too,” Hill said.
Potter’s activity in the quarter was impressive with three rebounds, a steal and a block. Goebel had two early boards with two steals and a block.
“We have a lot of good athletes, but Kayla and Kelsey do hit the boards hard and make some hustle plays,” Hill said.
Junge also credited their efforts.
“Kayla and Kelsey are known for deflecting passes,” Junge said. “They have good court vision, and being as short as we are we need good rebounders.”
This quarter literally held twice as much offense, considering the teams went into the half tied at 20-20. Five Lady Tigers grabbed two boards in the frame – Rotan, Junge, Potter, Goebel and Ponce.
Kelly had four steals in the quarter, but also managed to knock down a baseline jumper and score in transition.
“Kiffany is known for her long arms,” Junge said. “She rebounds really good and she’s a key defender.”
The Lady Tigers really passed well in the quarter with five assists, led by Junge’s two. Junge hit a tough driving bankshot and also drained a wing three late in the half.
On the other hand, Grandview’s post was playing well while the Lady Tigers were committing fouls playing extremely aggressively and turning the ball over too much.
“We got in a little foul trouble and we just have to be smart about it, as far as eliminating the silly ones,” Hill said. “We had a few bad passes, and again being tired is a factor there, too. We have to be patient and talk a little more to take care of the ball.”
Junge agreed that once the team is in better condition “desperation” fouls won’t be as much of an issue.
Although some bad passes still gave Glen Rose some trouble in the third, the Lady Tiger defense steadily began to clamp down on the Zebras. Rotan hit a corner three and drained another long jumper to help her squad win the frame 10-8.
“Shelby hits threes at clutch times,” Junge said. “She’s really reliable.”
Rotan also played extremely hard and showed toughness through some big collisions.
“Those threes for Shelby were big to give us a little space,” Hill said. “Shelby is really tough and it’s just fun to watch her. It’s fun to watch all of them; they’re a great group of ladies.”
Grandview’s post was pretty effective in the middle quarters.
“She was taller than we were and she could jump higher, but I think as we play more we’ll learn how to take those players out of the game,” Junge said.
Hill added that it will be key for Glen Rose to always “keep a body” on quality opposing posts.
Glen Rose was able to take a lead into the fourth because Junge made a steal and got the ball to Sammons for a transition layup before time expired (30-28).
While Junge made some huge plays in the fourth, the late stages were about stifling Glen Rose defense, as Grandview only put five points on the board.
“I think we knew we had to keep our lead, so we were smarter with our passes and didn’t leave their players open,” Junge said.
The key for Hill late was that the Lady Tigers continued to apply defensive pressure.
Meanwhile, Junge had all the answers offensively. After a steal and transition layup, she got the ball to Goebel for a skillful baseline runner. Junge then made a tough driving bankshot in traffic.
“I usually have to be on top of my game to keep everybody else on top of theirs,” the senior said. “I wanted them to know we had to be intense in the fourth.”
Moments later, Rotan found Junge and she buried a wing three.
“Reilly is our floor leader,” Hill said. “She was a thinker out there and she made some incredible moves taking it to the hole. We’re going to need that from Reilly every ballgame.”
In the closing seconds, Potter cut to the hoop, drew a foul and made both of her free throws to finalize the score.
Glen Rose will now host Maypearl on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. following the 5 p.m. JV contest.
“We want to get where we can play 10 players with no worries and keep the same level out there on the floor,” Hill said. “Maypearl has a good program and we haven’t played them before. They have some size, so I’d expect another hard-fought game.”