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The fourth quarter was the only one that mattered in the end.
Playing at Greenfield on Monday night, the Wilson Christian girls basketball team and the Lady Knights both led a pair of quarters and looked poised to take over the game for good.
But when it mattered most, Wilson Christian slowed the game down, focused on taking good shots and locked down the home team on defense. That, as it turned out, was the winning recipe in a 36-31 victory.
“We worked together as a team and slowed it down instead of rushing to make the fast shot, we just worked the ball around and made the right shot,” explained Kayla Tant, Wilson Christian’s leading scorer with 10 points.
While the visitors came away with a come-from-behind victory, the home team was left focusing on making improvements where it struggled down the stretch.
“It’s a good first game against Wilson Christian,” Greenfield head coach Bruce Wall said. “They’re not in our state division, but teams like that we need to see early. It’s a measuring stick for us.”
The game began with Wilson Christian taking a modest 9-5 lead at the end of the first quarter. Neither team came out of the gate making its shots and the first few minutes went without a basket.
Then, Ashley Hartsfield scored five straight points and Madison Carnes added a shot to spark the Lady Chargers to a 7-0 run.
Serenity McNair converted the only field goal of the quarter for Greenfield, while Kaelyn Wall added a pair of free throws to answer to the run.
When the second quarter began, McNair’s hot shooting continued. Her eight points the second quarter helped the Lady Knights keep the game close, before her final shot of the half gave Greenfield its first lead.
The good shots continued as the home team matched its second-quarter total with 12 more points in the third to keep the Lady Chargers at arms’ length, as much as six points away.
At that point, the Lady Knights thought they were starting to fall into a groove.
“We distributed the ball well together and took good shots,” McNair said. “I took good shots myself.”
The Lady Chargers scored nine points in the third quarter and Greenfield entered the final period of play with a 29-25 lead in hand. That’s when it all fell apart.
In the fourth quarter, the low numbers on the Greenfield roster caught up with the team. With just two bench players, head coach Bruce Wall said fatigue played a role at the end.
“We were gassed,” said head coach Bruce Wall, who has just two bench players. “I try to save my timeouts until the end because I know we’re low on numbrs. I’ll take some of that as my fault for maybe making them go too long.”
As the Lady Knights started to get tired, the role players for Wilson Christian stepped in and helped the team to come back.
The Lady Chargers went on a 6-2 run to start the final quarter and tied the game at 31 when Olivia Vick made a layup as she was fouled. On the free throw, Vick converted to give WCA a lead it wouldn’t relinquish at 32-31.
In the final two minutes of play, Greenfield turned the ball over twice and failed to put itself in position to answer. When the Wilson Christian defense tightened down, the Lady Knights offense ‘cracked under pressure.’
“I don’t think it was so much their defense intensified, but we moreso folded under pressure ourselves being a fairly new team and having different players,” McNair said. “We kind of cracked under pressure ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, their defense was decent and we couldn’t get off any shots, but we got off shots (earlier) when they were running the same defense.”
With a long season ahead, Greenfield won’t think too much about what went wrong at the end. The season just began and the team has plenty of time to learn how it all fits together.
“Overall I was pleased because we gave ourselves a chance,” Bruce Wall said. “We just let it slip at the last minute.”
Wilson Christian (36)
Tant 10, Madison Carnes 2, Olivia Vick 6, Ashley Hartsfield 7, Lea Gossett 5, Sophia Nesbit 6.
McNair 13, Wall, 9, Stroh 6, Holland 3.
Score by quarters:
WCA 9 7 9 11 — 36
GF 5 12 12 2 — 31