Last year, the Pleasant Ridge girls’ basketball team’s two biggest strengths were pressure defense and free-throw shooting.
Some things never change.
Lady Rams coach Mike Koontz’s squad used full-court pressure to fight back from a halftime deficit, and then free-throw shooting sealed an exciting 42-41 Ridge victory.
“We did a great job at being scrappy in the second half and finding a way to get back,” Koontz said. “I think we just wanted this one more.”
One of the motivators was a 50-48 loss to Atchison last year. Kelsey Carpenter had a chance to avenge it in the closing seconds Tuesday.
With seven seconds left and the game tied, Pleasant Ridge was inbounding with a chance to win. Atchison made a steal but never fully controlled it. The loose-ball scrum resulted in an Atchison foul with less than a second left.
Carpenter swished the first free throw to ice the game.
“I just prayed, and then hoped it went in,” Carpenter said.
It was a gritty win for a Lady Rams team that struggled mightily in the opening half. Ridge’s first-half offense produced more turnovers than shot attempts.
“We have to protect the ball to succeed. We had 22 turnovers in the first half,” Koontz said.
But once the Rams turned up the heat on defense, they started forcing turnovers of their own and getting close and uncontested baskets. Atchison’s fouls started mounting too, which gave the Lady Rams plenty of attempts from the free-throw line.
Pleasant Ridge shot 17 of 30 from the charity stripe. Atchison was nine of 21.
The Lady Rams turned a nine-point deficit at halftime into a one-point lead at the end of the third. Ridge kept the lead through most of the fourth, but never got more than a one-possession lead.
Carpenter, who hit the last second free throw, finished with five points. Jordan Adams led the Lady Rams in scoring with 13 points. Ashten Langley dropped in eight and Alyssa Crook added seven.
The 2-0 Lady Rams head to Kansas City Christian next Tuesday for a 6 p.m. tipoff.
Sluggish second half dooms Pioneers
Up 18-17 over Blue Valley Tuesday, the Leavenworth girls’ basketball team was going point-for-point with the No. 4 ranked 6A team in the state.
However, fatigue started to set in and Blue Valley took advantage. Two quarters later, the Lady Pioneers’ upset bid came up nine points short at the first-round of the Olathe South Tournament and Leavenworth lost 44-35.
“I think we played so hard and came out with such intensity in the first half that we were really spent in that second half,” Lady Pioneers coach Derek Zeck said. “We are young and we have to learn to win. The areas we broke down in are the little things that decide games and we will get better at those as the season progresses.”
Page 2 of 2 - The biggest statistics that hurt Leavenworth were 15 second half turnovers, and as a team, Leavenworth went 6-for-16 from the free throw line.
The Lady Pioneers will take on Olathe South Thursday at 8 p.m.
Lions make improvements in loss
The final score showed 49-39 Shawnee Heights over Lansing Tuesday.
But though the Lady Lions suffered its second straight loss, Lansing girls’ basketball coach Christine Robinson saw improvement from her young team.
“I think the girls grew up a lot tonight,” Robinson said. “I told them they took a big step in the right direction. They are learning my system, staying focused and disciplined and I’m really encouraged by that.”
Mikayla Zielinski led the team in scoring with 13 points, followed by Madelyn Moya’s eight and Jasmine Meyer’s six. Lansing will host Topeka Seaman Friday at 5:45 p.m.
“We were pretty much neck and neck all game,” Robinson said. “They hit two 3-pointers back-to-back late though. We then had to dig ourselves out of a hole and just ran out of time. Still, it was definitely a step in the right direction.”