Early built a big lead on the Lady Tigers in the Luminant/Glen Rose Lions Club Tournament on Friday and nearly blew it, but the visitors did just enough to escape with a 54-50 victory.
After a 10-0 start, adversity hit Glen Rose (10-2) Friday with losses to Mineral Wells and Early. Due to injury, the Lady Tigers only had seven players available against Early, and two of them fouled out in the fourth quarter. Despite the loss, coach Sheree Hill was proud of her team.
“My girls played so hard; I’ve never seen better hustle,” she said. “You can’t ask anymore than that.”
It was shocking that Early was able to win the game because it had epic struggles with turnovers. Glen Rose had 25 steals, and Early had roughly 40 turnovers overall.
Reilly Junge (17 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 7 steals) and Destiny Ponce (16 points, rebound, 5 assists, 3 steals) accounted for most of the offense. Other scorers were Kayla Goebel (9 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 7 steals, 2 blocks), Kelsey Potter (5 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals) and Shelby Rotan (3 points, 2 steals).
It could be argued the Lady Tigers lost the game in the first quarter, as Early exploded out of the gate for a 23-11 lead. Early hit a couple of threes and got numerous layups from its post.
“That’s probably my fault,” Hill said. “We should’ve been pressing them from the start. The problem was we only had seven kids (available) and we were going to be exhausted. Early hit their outside shots and we didn’t.
“That (post) girl was good at finishing shots in the paint. We did our best to battle her.”
Glen Rose was having offensive rebound issues, but if there was a bright spot in the first quarter Ponce was effective attacking in the paint for seven points.
“Destiny did a good job getting her points to try to help us stay in the game in the first half,” Hill said.
The steals really began to pile up for Glen Rose in the second quarter as Early struggled, but the Lady Tiger offense couldn’t capitalize, as each team scored eight. Junge did what she could with a wing three and a runner in the lane, but turnovers were also hurting the home team.
“We had to shoot outside with them packing into a zone,” Hill said. “We did knock some (jumpers) down – not as many as we needed to.”
The Lady Tigers missed nine free throws in the first half, and continued to have problems at the line in the second half.
“We struggled at the free throw line in both of our games (Friday),” Hill said.
Determined to close the gap, Glen Rose opened the second half with a Junge wing three and a Goebel baseline jumper for a 24-31 game. Unfortunately, Early struck back with an 8-0 run to put Glen Rose on the ropes (24-39).
“We kept battling; it really took a lot of effort to come back from that,” Hill said.
Though Potter and Junge hit jumpers late in the third, Glen Rose trailed 41-28 going into the fourth.
There was no question about the Lady Tigers’ desire to rally, as they scored more in the fourth (22) than any other two quarters combined. Ponce continued to deliver baskets and Goebel hit a corner three, but turnovers plagued Glen Rose and many of them were unforced.
Junge, Potter and Goebel each had multiple steals in the fourth.
“There were stretches when (Early) never got close to the bucket because of all our steals,” Hill said.
Down the stretch, Goebel buried another three and Rotan nailed one, too.
“Shelby picked the perfect time to hit a big three,” Hill said.
Junge focused in to hit two big free throws and soon drove to the basket for a 48-50 ballgame with less than a minute left.
“Reilly made some plays to help give us a chance to win the game,” Hill said. “You can’t ask for more than that, considering what we were down (on the scoreboard) to start with.”
In one of the biggest plays of the game, Ponce then took a charge to give Glen Rose the ball back down two. It just wasn’t Glen Rose’s night, however, as the Lady Tigers had an unforced turnover on the following possession and Early was able to make its last four free throws to seal the deal.
“It gave us a chance to tie or go ahead when Destiny took that charge,” Hill said. “We ended up turning it over, but we had a shot. I can’t ask any more of them than what they gave me (Friday).”
The Lady Tigers will try to finish their tournament on a positive note at noon on Saturday in the Red Gym.
“Life can be going rosy, and then something happens when you feel like you can’t crawl out of a hole,” Hill said. “We needed good competition, so we just need to use this experience to get better.”