Highland got out to a fast start at River Valley in their Friday night Division II girls’ basketball sectional contest, but a second-quarter drought proved costly in a 54-32 loss to the Vikings.
“We knew they’d throw all sorts of different defenses at us,” said Scot coach Whitney Levering Smith. “We had a couple turnovers that led to transition baskets for them. Overall, my girls didn’t stop and we did the best we could. I wish we had made more threes, but we haven’t made many all year.”
It was Highland’s defense that controlled the game in the opening period. Four points by Emma West, as well as two each from Peyton Carpenter and Savannah Fitzpatrick staked them to an 8-2 lead at the 4:50 mark of the quarter. Four points from Brylinn Tuggle and another bucket by West allowed the Scots to hold a 14-9 lead after eight minutes had concluded.
“Most of it was that we were the underdog and thought we’d be overlooked,” said Levering Smith. “We’re going to give it our all and if you don’t come out and give it your all, too…”
The teams would trade baskets to open the second quarter, but Highland would then endure a cold spell that lasted for nearly six minutes. During that stretch, the Vikings were able to turn a 16-11 deficit into a 26-16 lead and the home team would not look back in the game.
The score was 29-18 going into the half. In the third quarter, Highland was able to close within seven points behind the strength of five points by West, but a late basket by the Vikings allowed them to take a 37-28 lead into the fourth.
The Scots would only muster four points over the final eight minutes, allowing the Vikings to pull away and turn a single-digit lead into a 22-point win.
West led Highland with a double-double, as she scored 13 points and added 10 rebounds. Despite the team losing four seniors in Fitzpatrick, Carpenter, Kennedy Altizer and Maddy Gordon, Levering-Smith thinks her program had the potential for a good year in the 2021-22 season based on the performances of its underclassmen — citing West, Tuggle and Guinevere Jackson as three players who showed a lot of growth this year.
“I think our underclassmen did a great job of representing what they can do next year,” she said. “We’ve seen so much growth from them.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS