With an ITCL Upper Tier championship within their sights, the Springfield Tigers girls basketball team was clearly focused as they topped a spirited Crestview Lady Rebels squad 64-57 Monday night at home. The victory pushes the Tigers mark on the season to 16-2, 11-1 in the league. Crestview drops to 10-8, 7-5 on the year.
“We’re going to get everybody’s best game,” Tigers coach Jim Schuler remarked. That’s kind of the mentality that I have been telling the girls. When your being successful, everybody is going to be after you to try to get you off track. I hate that cliché, but it’s one of those things where you have to step up every game and your going to get everybody’s best game.”
The Tigers would lead by as much as 16-points late in the third quarter when senior Kennedy Richey connected on two free throws at the 1:26 mark of the stanza. But the Rebels kept chipping away at the Tigers lead in the fourth quarter, getting the deficit down to just seven points with 35-seconds remaining in the contest when freshman Emily Ferris hit a jumper from the right side.
“Hats off to Crestview. They played a tremendous game in terms of fighting, they never gave in. No matter how much they were down. They started off pretty good and they just kept plugging away. It was one of those battles where we get a little bit of a lead and feel like you could relax just a little bit, and then you would have to crank it back up,” Schuler added.
The loss overshadowed a tremendous performance by the Rebels senior forward Anna Hardenbrook who led all players with 24-points in the game and added 9 rebounds. Hardenbrook would score 16 of her 24 points in the Rebels second half comeback attempt.
“She just played with a ton of heart tonight,” Rebels coach Rick Gates said. “That’s really what we just told our girls in the locker room after the game, they never gave up, they battled hard. Springfield knew they were in a game tonight, and we had good play from several of the freshman, Ferris, Gates. We battled, and I’m proud of the heart we showed.”
Ferris would contribute 16-points to the Rebels offense, while Gates added an additional 11. Gates also pulled down 5 rebounds.
The Rebels came out from the opening tip-off giving the Tigers their best effort as they raced out to a 11-6 lead midway through the first quarter. But the Tigers Callie Ford found her comfort zone at the top of the key behind the arc to hit five three pointers in the first half to propel the Tigers to a 31-25 halftime lead.
“Callie started off real hot,” Schuler said. “I think she had five three’s right off the bat. We were a little sluggish and she kind of picked us up a little bit.”
Ford would lead the Tigers with 19-points while Baylee Felger and Richey each knocked down 16-points a piece. Felger would also grab 11 rebounds, with Joanie Foster pulling in 8 rebounds.
“Our senior’s really stepped up. Baylee made some big shots down the stretch, got a few offensive rebounds, put some free throws in. When we need a boost the seniors have been able to pick us up. Jill (Tabaka) had some offensive rebounds, made some great defensive stops that maybe you don’t see that as a stat, but she
is always in position to make a play. And Kennedy hitting some of those three’s in spots kind of pushes the lead out a little bit and gives you a little room,” Schuler explained.
Due to whether postponements, the two teams will turn around and meet each other again next week when they have a girls-boys double header at Crestview next Friday. Prior to that meeting, the Rebels will play at Columbiana Wednesday and at South Range Thursday, while the Tigers travel to Lisbon on Thursday.
Led by Kasey Kohler with 15-points and Valerie Kinsey with 14-points, the Tigers J-V squad beat Crestview 36-33 in a hard-fought last minute win.
COURTESY: Lowell Spencer - ITCLFootball.net