Mount Gilead got off to a slow start against visiting East Knox on Saturday and never could quite gain control of the game in losing a hard-fought 43-38 decision.
“We didn’t have much defensive intensity,” said MG coach Ryan Stover. “We kind of allowed East Knox to control the game. They didn’t score much, but we allowed them to do what they wanted.”
Stover noted that his team’s troubles were on both sides of the ball, stating, “Offensively, we’ve been a slump the last couple weeks. We’ve got to find a way to put the ball in the hole. Sometimes, we got careless with the basketball. We need to find a way to limit turnovers and sloppiness.”
Both of those issues were on display in a sloppy first quarter. MG held an early 3-2 lead after Dakota Shipman connected from three-point range, but would be outscored 9-2 over the next six minutes to fall into an 11-5 hole.
A quarter-ending basket from Madison Fitzpatrick got the team within four going into the second. They would open the second quarter with a 6-2 run over the opening three minutes, with Shipman, Fitzpatrick and Samantha Sullivan all scoring, to tie the game at 13.
However, MG would only get two more points in the half, allowing their opponents to surge back in front by a 19-15 margin.
Throughout the second half, the Indians made multiple runs at East Knox, but their guests were able to respond each time.
“I give credit to East Knox,” said Stover. “They executed when they had to. When we’d have a run, they’d have a run of their own.”
Mount Gilead dominated the opening minutes of the third quarter, getting six points from Fitzpatrick, three from Holly Gompf and two from Shipman to lead 26-24 with 3:42 remaining in the period. Unfortunately, another offensively slump made that lead a short-lived one, as they were outscored 11-3 down the stretch and trailed 35-29 with eight minutes remaining.
In the fourth, they would immediately work to get the momentum back, getting four points from Fitzpatrick and two from Gompf to tie the game at 35. Stover noted that Fitzpatrick made a lot of timely shots to keep his team in the game.
“She played real well tonight and I’m happy with her performance,” he said. “When we needed a shot, she got one.”
Four straight points by East Knox gave them a 39-35 lead with just under three minutes remaining. Trailing 41-38 in the final minute, MG was given a chance to get closer or tie the score when the Bulldogs missed the front end of consecutive one-and-one attempts, but would not be able to convert on the offensive end as their opponents were able to escape with the win.
Fitzpatrick scored 16 to lead MG, while Shipman tallied nine.
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS