Offensive woes were fatal to the Highland girls on Thursday when they hosted Ontario in a non-league contest.
While the Scots were able to rally from deficits multiple times, they could never get over the hump in what turned into a 34-23 loss.
“I know we shot 23 percent from the field,” said head coach Whitney Levering Smith, “Any time you shoot that low, it’s hard to win. We definitely could score and had opportunities to do so, but we missed several lay-ups and shots.”
Most of Ontario’s roster had the same problem; however, Mecca Sewell did not, pouring in a game-high 19 points and seemingly there to put in big baskets whenever it looked like the Scots would grab momentum.
“She would take it to the hoop strong and we struggled stopping her in the second half,” said Levering Smith.
Highland held an early lead in the contest, as two free throws by Gena West and a basket by Raven Tilford put them up by a 4-2 count with 4:44 left in the opening period. They would not score again until Madison Cecil scored twice from the charity stripe in the final seconds of the quarter, though.
During that time, Sewell scored three baskets to stake her team to what would be an 8-6 lead after eight minutes. Highland tied it on a basket by Tilford to open the second quarter, but Sewell scored five points to spark a 7-0 Warrior run.
Trailing 15-8, the Scots rallied behind a basket by Darcie Walters and a three-pointer from Cecil to close within a 16-13 margin at the intermission.
After an Ontario basket gave them a five-point lead, Highland got five straight points from West to tie things up at 18. Unfortunately for the home team, Ontario would control the rest of the game.
“In the second half, they changed the way they guarded us and that flustered us a bit,” said Levering Smith. “I did feel we handled their press better, but when we got over the line we got stagnant.”
Holding a 20-19 lead with 4:43 left in the third, Ontario got six straight points from Sewell to lead by seven going into the final period. There, they outscored the Scots 8-4 to clinch the win.
Highland got seven points from both Tilford and West, as they fell to 5-3 on the year. After the game, Levering Smith noted that her team did a lot of things right in the game, but their offensive woes prevented them from getting the win.
“We only let them have six offensive rebounds and had five steals, so we did do a decent job defensively, but didn’t capitalize on the offensive end,” she said.
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS