The reviews are in, and Lady Tiger basketball is a hit early in the 2012-13 season.
Glen Rose (3-0) continues to play better with each game, and it rolled down the stretch of a 67-50 home win over a taller Mineral Wells Rams team with a college-bound post on Friday.
“We were concerned about Mineral Wells’ size, especially their post who is a very good player,” said coach Sheree Hill. “With a new coach and a new system, I got a scouting report on them. Their post hurt us a little early, but we made a few adjustments.
“I give all the credit to the kids; they wanted to win this game no matter what. It was a big game we needed to win and I’m very pleased with the girls’ effort and attitudes. We talked about roles this week, and everyone has something they can bring to the game.”
Kayla Goebel came up huge with a 20-point game.
“We knew we’d have to work hard for this one,” the junior said. “I’ve played summer ball with pretty much that whole team, so I was ready to win.”
Reilly Junge added 14 points to the cause.
“That was an awesome game,” Junge said. “Ashlan (Bernard) stepped in there and did really good. Our underclassmen are starting to get stronger and (Mineral Wells) couldn’t really back off of a player because we were all threats. It was pretty cool.”
Other scorers included Destiny Ponce (11), Kiffany Kelly (7), Kelsey Potter (6), Bernard (5) and Madi Gibson (4).
Despite seven very early points from Kelly, including a completed and-one play, Mineral Wells was at its best to win the first quarter 18-15.
“Kiffany has been ill the last couple of days,” Hill said. “Bless her heart, she came to school (Friday) and had a tremendous first quarter. After the first, I could just tell she didn’t need to go back on the floor. It was very gutsy on her part to step up.”
The other positive sign early was the play of Goebel, who had six points in the first – including a short reverse bankshot.
“Kayla was on and it definitely helped us out, “ Junge said.
Despite getting outrebounded in the second quarter and having some turnover issues, the Lady Tigers began to turn up their defense and won the quarter 17-10. Mineral Wells made just four of 10 free throws in the half and also struggled to connect on numerous three-point attempts.
“We had a little luck here and there with some of their misses, but they definitely have some good players to have (future) success,” Hill said.
Ponce had a great quarter with seven points – including a completed and-one play – and she also took a charge.
“I like the way Destiny is playing right now,” Hill said.
Coming just moments after Goebel splashed a wing three, the Ponce and-one play gave Glen Rose a lead for the first time since the opening moments.
A Glen Rose takeover
In the third quarter, Glen Rose continued to play stout defense to take the quarter 13-9. Junge began to heat up with a transition hoop off a Shelby Rotan steal and assist, and then she responded to a Mineral Wells three with a driving layup.
Mineral Wells scored six-straight points to take a one-point lead, but Glen Rose seemed to put the visitors on the ropes with a 9-0 run. During that stretch, Bernard scored on a putback, Gibson attacked the basket with success, and then Potter and Junge each stole the ball to score in transition.
“Kelsey is an athlete,” Junge said. “That’s all there is to it. She’s fast and can do everything; I’m excited to see what she becomes.”
Goebel and Hill both took notice of what sophomore Bernard and freshman Gibson were up to with their best varsity showings to date Friday.
“Ashlan and Madi played awesome,” Goebel said. “I’m so proud of those two girls.”
“Ashlan cut loose and played like she’s capable of playing,” Hill added. “Madi was battling as a freshman out there. I’m also proud of Kate (Sammons), considering she’s had a lot to learn after not playing last year.”
Heading to the fourth up by eight, Glen Rose took its game to another level. After clearly losing the rebounding battle in the first half, the smaller Lady Tigers surprisingly totally turned the tide as the game progressed.
“Coach Hill said if we didn’t start hitting the boards we were going to have to run (at practice) and we all picked it up,” Goebel said.
Hill knew that was key in the win.
“If we can’t block people out and rebound, we’ll be in trouble,” she said. “All the girls stepped up as the game went with blocking out. I also thought our kids did a great job of reading where their shooters were while we were in our zone. At halftime we talked about having faith and believing in ourselves, and then in the second half the girls did an incredible job.”
Regarding the zone defense Hill mentioned, it caused the Mineral Wells post to gradually fade away in regard to her offensive effectiveness.
“We got in a zone in the second half so we could have defenders in front and behind her,” Goebel said. “After that, we pretty much shut her down. Our wings did good covering their wings, too.”
Just as she did in the third, Junge struck quickly in the fourth with a wing three and a driving layup. The senior drew several fouls on bigger players by fearlessly attacking the basket.
“You’ve got to take out the big ones,” Junge said. “They definitely had a height advantage, as a lot of people will, but we drew fouls (on their post) and Madi blocked her out to help us win.”
Goebel went on a personal tear in the fourth, scoring 11-straight Glen Rose points at one juncture. She hit a three, scored on a putback, made free throws and drilled a pair of jumpers.
“We knew (Mineral Wells was) going to be good, and when we came in at halftime with the lead we were fired up,” Goebel said. “I had a bad third quarter, so in the fourth quarter I was ready to put some stats on the board.”
Hill knew Goebel was feeling it.
“Kayla was on fire,” she said. “She hit some big shots in the fourth, and Reilly did, too.”
Another encouraging aspect of the fourth for Glen Rose was the fact it had six steals and two blocks. Junge (2 steals, block) and Ponce (2 steals, block) led the way.
“I think (the Rams) were just desperate to score and we didn’t want that to happen,” Junge said. “It was pretty cool to see what we did on defense.”
In the final moments, Gibson hit a pair of free throws and Bernard scored in transition off a Junge assist to the delight of their teammates.
The Lady Tigers will try to let the good times roll on Tuesday when they host Rio Vista at 6:30 p.m.
“We need to make sure we’re ready for that game,” Hill said. “We had some flat practices this week, but we have to get through that. I’m proud of the girls and this is where we want to be at this point.”