An injury-plagued Mount Gilead girls’ basketball team was able to take visiting Grandview Heights to overtime in the first round of the Division III Central District playoffs, but couldn’t claim the win in a 39-37 defeat.
After going the entire season without the services of starter Candace Millisor, coach Bob Scott’s team was further depleted for Wednesday’s game, with starter Greer Simpson out with an injury and another starter, Aubrey Thomas, limited.
“We were lucky to get that far,” said Scott of his team forcing an extra period. “We didn’t play especially well. Injuries hurt us some. We were pretty far down on our bench. Aubrey Thomas tried to play on an ankle that wasn’t 100 percent. She tried her best.”
To reach overtime, the Indians (10-13) needed a late scoring burst, combined with some missed Bobcat free throws.
Leading 28-22 with under a minute left in regulation, Grandview missed the front end of a one-and-one and MG responded with a Madilyn Elson three-pointer.
MG fouled again and their opponents failed to convert another front end, setting up a three from Grace Shipman to tie the game and send it to an extra session.
Grandview would have success from the charity stripe in overtime, though, while MG struggled on offense. Over the first 3:10 of the four-minute period, the Bobcats went on a 7-0 run with all of their points coming at the line. Shipman broke the MG drought, but two more Grandview free throws made it 37-30 with 32 seconds left.
Shipman and Ava Baker hit back-to-back shots for the Indians to make it a one-possession game with seven seconds to go, but when the team fouled Natalie Smith, she hit both of her shots. Baker beat the buzzer with a last-second three, but MG saw its season end by two points.
For the Indians, the entire game played out much like the extra session, with the team having scoring bursts, but being unable to put points on the board with consistency. Shipman got Mount Gilead off to a good start, scoring six points in the opening 90 seconds of the first quarter.
“I commend Grace Shipman,” said Scott of his junior player who led all scorers with 15 points. “She played her you-know-what off.”
That opening success wouldn’t last, though. Grandview rallied to score 12 straight points — a run that didn’t end until the final 10 seconds of the quarter when Thomas drew a foul and hit both of her shots.
The second quarter would then be all MG. Elson hit a three-pointer, both Faith White and Lydia Stalnaker added baskets and Baker connected on one-of-two free throws in a period they outscored their opponents 8-0 to take a 16-12 lead into the half.
“It was a game of runs,” said Scott. “It was 6-0, then a 12-0 run by them, then a 10-0 run by us. Then we got stuck and didn’t score in the second half.”
Mount Gilead was outscored 12-1 in the third quarter to see their four-point lead turn into a 24-17 deficit and necessitate the team’s late comeback to force overtime.
Along with Shipman’s 15, Elson tallied 10 points with three three-pointers. Scott noted that there is a lot of reason for optimism in the future, as everyone should be back next year — hopefully healthy.
“We lost some close games and were in a lot of games,” he said. “It wears you down. It’s a long season especially when you don’t have depth. The kids wear down mentally and physically.”