The Lady Tigers were extremely shorthanded in China Spring on Tuesday, but that didn’t stop Glen Rose from going all-out in pursuit of victory.
Glen Rose (11-3) was within three points midway through the fourth quarter, but the home team did a solid job down the stretch to separate for a 50-40 win. Starters Reilly Junge and Kiffany Kelly were out due to injury, joining Kate Goen, who had been out for several games. Ashlan Bernard was injured early in the second quarter and then Kayla Goebel fouled out in the fourth quarter to leave Glen Rose with no subs at game’s end.
“We made a few mistakes down the stretch, but overall the girls did a great job,” said coach Sheree Hill. “We had to change our whole philosophy (due to the injuries), and they adapted to it very well. I told the girls before the game that, yes – we’ve lost two starters, but we still have good players. They stepped up and did some things well.
“Madison (Morrow) came up from the JV (Monday) and stepped right into the lineup. This situation will make these girls better basketball players.”
Top scorers were Destiny Ponce (19 points, 7 rebounds) and Kayla Goebel (12 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals). Other scorers included Kelsey Potter (6 points, 5 rebounds, assist) and Madi Gibson (3 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals).
The Lady Tigers took a 4-2 lead thanks to some early production from Goebel, and then China Spring ripped off a 9-0 run. Glen Rose would battle back and only trail 13-12 after the first quarter, however, as Ponce hit a straightaway three and then completed an and-one play at the end of the quarter.
“I thought Destiny stepped up (Tuesday) like you need a senior to; she guarded people twice her size,” Hill said.
Potter grabbed four rebounds in the quarter, and was one of several players to handle the ball more.
“Potter handled the ball some, and that will make her better,” Hill said. “Kayla and Destiny also took on some of that load.”
Bernard went out with an ankle injury early in the second, leaving Glen Rose with six players down 15-12. The Lady Tigers made their way into an 18-17 lead with a Goebel three and a Ponce layup via a Gibson steal and assist.
Ponce got to the hoop again late in the half thanks to a Shelby Rotan steal and assist, but a 5-1 China Spring run put the hosts up 25-21 at halftime. Rotan had a team-high six assists.
“Shelby did a good job setting up her teammates and she was fighting for boards, too,” Hill said.
Glen Rose very well could’ve won the game with quality free throw shooting. The Lady Tigers missed 10 free throws in the first half and five after halftime.
“I told the girls at halftime they call them free for a reason,” Hill said. “We have to learn to convert, because if we put a few more of those in it could’ve made a difference.”
Rotan continued to lend a hand early in the third quarter with assists on a Goebel wing three and a Ponce jumper, but China Spring struck back with a 7-0 run. It was a good quarter for Gibson, who grabbed four rebounds, snagged two steals and nailed a baseline jumper at the end to keep Glen Rose within four (36-32).
“Madi stepped up and really chipped in for a freshman,” Hill said. “I couldn’t be any prouder of her. I think Madi is turning the corner when it comes to handling the ball and looking for her offense. She realizes we need that from her.”
China Spring had solid post scoring, which made it tough for Glen Rose to put together any big runs.
“(China Spring) is a very talented group,” Hill said. “They have size, speed and good shooters.”
Early in the fourth quarter, the Lady Tigers pulled within two points after a pair of Ponce free throws and then again on a Ponce jumper. Moments later, Ponce took her second charge of the game.
“Destiny has a knack for that; she can get her feet set,” Hill said.
Unfortunately, Glen Rose soon missed a potential tying jumper and never got closer than three points again.
“I wish we’d have gone to the rim at that point; we had a chance, but a few bad passes cost us,” Hill said.
China Spring slowly began to separate and made six-straight free throws at one point to seal the deal. While Potter had committed her fourth foul early in the third, it was Goebel who fouled out late in the fourth.
“Every foul was critical,” Hill said. “We had to play smart with so few players available.”
The Lady Tigers appear set to get one of their injured players back this week, while the status of the other three was uncertain on Tuesday night.
“Kate should be back Thursday, while Reilly and Kiffany will find out what their status is on Wednesday,” Hill said. “We’ll have to see about Ashlan after we get her ankle checked out.”
Glen Rose will now travel to Bridgeport on Friday for a 7:30 p.m. contest.
“Last year, Bridgeport had a small, but very quick, team and we didn’t have a good game over there,” Hill said. “We’re going over there this time looking to put together a good ballgame and win.”