Posted: Tuesday, January 26, 2016 6:14 pm | Updated: 6:26 pm, Tue Jan 26, 2016.
By AARON KENNEDY firstname.lastname@example.org
The Rossville girls’ basketball team bounced back from a 50-35 semifinal loss to the Carroll Cougars to defeat the Tri-Central Trojans, 49-46, in Saturday night’s third-place game in the Hoosier Heartland Conference Championship Tournament at Taylor High School in Kokomo.
The Hornets jumped out to a 14-8 lead by the end of the opening quarter and led 24-17 at the half before weathering a Tri-Central comeback in the second half to hold on to the win.
“We knew (Tri-Central) came off a really tough loss in the first game and we thought they might be a little flat,” Rossville head coach Chad Geheb said. “We talked about getting off to a good start. I thought our girls did a great job and took advantage of it. That lead helped in the end because they made a comeback.
“I just liked how we finished because we have been in close games before with Clinton Prairie and North White, in particular, where we found ways to lose,” he added. “Tonight we found ways to win. I think that has been a big difference in the growth of this team, So, I am really proud of that too.”
After being held to just 17 points in the opening half, the Trojans surged back with 15 points in the third period. Tri-Central finally tied the game at 46 with less than two minutes left to play, but sophomore point guard Maggie Deboy made 3-of-4 foul shots down the stretch to seal the win.
“We were trying to make sure to get the ball in Maggie’s hands,” Geheb said. “She did a really nice job in that fourth quarter of getting the ball where we needed it to go, attacking the basket and getting to the free throw line.”
The Hornets outrebounded Tri-Central, 33-26.
“The way we rebounded was really good,” Geheb said. “We were physical tonight. We talked about that in the Carroll game. I thought the Carroll game showed us how we can be physical. We were a physical team tonight on the boards. Defensively, I thought we played pretty well. They have some good, savvy basketball players in (Haley) Farris and (Taylor) Davis. They are going to get their stuff, but I thought we did a pretty good job defensively overall and rebounded very well.”
Junior forward Keely Criswell scored a team-high 14 points and pulled down six rebounds, while sophomore Julia Malson scored eight and grabbed 14 rebounds.
“I thought Keely Criswell showed a lot of toughness,” Geheb said. “Julia Malson on the boards and Keely on the boards and in the post were just being strong and getting buckets – knocking some free throws down too.”
Deboy finished with 13 points and three steals, while senior Taylor Zink had eight points and five steals.
“Honestly, the spark for us was Taylor Zink,” Geheb said. “Early in the first half things were kind of slow, and then she gave us a real big spark. She hustled, got her hands on loose balls, made drives to the basket and got layups – she played an outstanding basketball game for us as well.”
Mallory Roberts scored four points in the win, while Bekah McKee came off the bench when Malson got in foul trouble and made both of her free throw attempts.
“Offensively, I thought we did a good job of attacking. It got us to the free throw line, where I think we took advantage of the situation and were able to hold on in the end,” Geheb said. “I am just really proud of these kids to come out third overall compared to where Rossville has been the last couple years. These kids have worked very hard, and they just kept climbing the mountain. We guaranteed ourselves a winning season and got third place in this tournament. I am just very proud and very happy for these girls.”
The Hornets are back at it tonight with a 7:30 p.m. game against the Sheridan Blackhawks.
It will be Senior Night on Thursday, when the Hornets host Delphi.
HORNETS 49, TROJANS 46
Criswell 5 4-7 14, Malson 2 4-4 8, Zink 3 2-4 8, Roberts 2 0-2 4, Deboy 4 5-6 13, McKee 0 2-2 2. Totals – 16 18-25 49.
Farris 7 8-9 22, Davis 4 0-2 11, Quesada 1 0-0 2, Richard 2 1-2 6, Leininger 1 0-0 2, Schmidt 1 0-0 2, Cassity 0 1-2 1. Totals – 16 10-15 46.
Rossville 14 10 11 14 – 49
Tri-Central 8 9 15 14 – 46
3-Point Goals – Rossville 0, Tri-Central 4 (Davis 3, Richard). Fouled out – Richard. Rebounds – Rossville 33 (Malson 14), Tri-Central 26. Total fouls – Rossville 14, Tri-Central 22.