A late-game run allowed the Highland Lady Scots to outlast visiting Ontario in a back-and-forth MOAC contest Thursday night by a 51-46 score.
“What we’re learning is that’s a classic, typical MOAC game,” said Scot coach Matt Bradley after his team improved to 4-8 and 3-4 in the conference. “Ontario played us tough. It was a really good game and good win for us.”
Trailing 39-35 entering the fourth quarter, Ontario was able to tie things up at 44 with 3:32 remaining thanks to a three-pointer by Adrienne Kearns and two points each from three other players. However, Highland was able to finish the game on a 5-2 run to preserve the win.
A steal by Guinevere Jackson led to two points for the junior to give the Scots the lead again. Emma West then drew a foul and hit one of her two free throws. On Highland’s next possession, she would score from the field to give her team a five-point lead with 41 seconds to go.
Twelve seconds later, a bucket by Ontario’s Rylee Nigh brought the Warriors back to within a 49-46 margin. They would then foul Jackson, who hit both free throws to clinch the game for the Scots.
Bradley felt his team gave a great overall effort to pick up the decision.
“Tonight’s game 12 and we’re still figuring out rotations and line-ups,” he said after a contest in which eight girls played with six of them scoring. “It was a great overall team effort tonight.”
The coach added that his four seniors played a huge role. Two of then, Brylinn Tuggle and Emma West, led the team with 15 and 13 points, respectively, with junior Makayla Woods adding eight.
“They’ve played a lot of varsity basketball and volleyball,” said the coach of Tuggle and West. “This stage doesn’t really scare them. I can’t say enough good things about those two. Ryleigh (Howard) and Jacinta (Eblin) are really starting to grow into their roles. In a lot of ways, this is their first taste of varsity in a starting role.”
Neither team could claim the momentum for more than a handful of minutes until Highland’s late-game run. The Scots led 10-8 late in the third quarter after back-to-back offensive rebounds and scores by Kameron Stover, but Ontario finished the period with two straight three-pointers — one from just inside half court by Nigh to beat the buzzer — to lead 14-10.
The Scots would quickly regain the lead in the second quarter, starting the period out with a basket by West and three free throws from Woods to go up by one. The teams would trade the lead repeatedly over the course of the period, but the Scots went into the locker room with a 24-21 lead after closing the period with back-to-back baskets by West and Tuggle.
Leading 29-28 three minutes into the third quarter, the Scots put on an aggressive press and looked like they might run away with the game with an 8-0 run led by four points from West. However, Ontario was able to close out the quarter by scoring seven of the final nine points to get back within four points.
After finishing the game strongly to earn a season sweep of Ontario, Bradley was happy with his players’ performance and their ability to do the little things such as hitting free throws. The Scots were 11-of-12 from the line — a huge boost in a close game.
“We’ll take it,” he said. “Those were big shots. Guinevere hit two huge ones and Brylinn hit some huge ones. It was just an awesome job by everyone tonight.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS