Despite having the fourth seed in DIvision III of the Central District girls’ basketball tournament, Mount Gilead coach Bob Scott knew it’d be tough for his team to advance in the postseason.
Due to Africentric’s status as a basketball power, when they earned the top seed, most of the other highly-seeded teams chose to enter the other district bracket, leading to a situation where the fourth-seeded Indians opened play at home against the sixth-seeded Pleasant Spartans.
After 32 intense minutes of play on Saturday afternoon, MG saw its season ended at 16-6 after a heartbreaking 36-35 loss.
“We had a stretch where we lost focus and they took the lead,” said Scott. “We recovered and got the lead, but they just made one more play. One team had to lose unfortunately. It was a tough first-round match-up, but what are you going to do?”
The Indians were ecstatic when Holly Gompf buried a three-pointer with 22 seconds left in regulation to give MG a 35-34 lead. However, Pleasant’s Alissa Holler drew a foul with 8.6 seconds left. While she had missed her previous three free throw attempts in the game, she was accurate on these two to give the Spartans a one-point lead.
Mount Gilead had one more chance to either tie the game or win it, but Pleasant was able to force a turnover on the game’s final possession to end the Indian season.
Neither team could hold an advantage in the first half. The Indians opened the game with buckets from Dakota Shipman and Madison Fitzpatrick to take an early 4-0 lead, but Pleasant had gotten within a 6-5 margin by the end of the quarter.
Despite getting eight points from Candace Millisor in the second quarter, Mount Gilead found themselves tied up with Pleasant at 16 going into the half.
The Spartans then took off in the early going of the third period, getting six straight points to take the lead. However, MG was able to finish the quarter strongly, getting baskets from Millisor, Madilyn Elson and Shipman to get within three at 25-22.
A basket by Shipman and a three-pointer from Elson put MG back in front early in the fourth, but Pleasant fought back to lead 29-27 midway through the period. Elson hit another three to give the Indians the lead again, but Kyla Columber responded with a three to give the Spartans a 32-30 advantage with three minutes left. Shipman tied the game at 32, but
Holler responded to give Pleasant the lead once again.
It would stay 34-32 for two minutes until Gompf hit her three-pointer. Unfortunately for the Indians, that lead would not hold up for the final 22 seconds of action.
Despite the loss, Scott feels this team should be remembered by what it accomplished throughout the season.
“It’s a great season,” he said, noting that Fitzpatrick finished her career second in program history in scoring, while Gompf set a three-point record. “We set the school record in wins.
Shipman and Millisor both finished with 10 points for the Indians, while Elson added eight.
With two of his top scorers in the game being underclassmen, Scott has optimism that the future will also be bright for the Indians despite losing Shipman, Fitzpatrick, Alexis McCoy and Zoie Barron to graduation. He did note, though, that his younger players will have to show the same attitude and work ethic as those senior in order for the team to remain successful.
“I wish I could have them all back,” he said of his seniors. “They put a lot of time and effort in. We have to get every kid in the program to work. Those kids put a lot of effort in. You’ve got to put time in if you want to be good.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS