A big run to open the second quarter staked the Highland girls to a 12-point lead over host Mount Gilead. While the Indians made several runs to keep the Scots from getting too comfortable with their advantage, they were able to stay in front the rest of the way in earning a 48-40 victory.
“Credit to them,” said Highland coach Matt Bradley of the Indians. “They never did go away. We got it up to 15 at one point and they got seven or eight in a row. Credit to coach (Bob) Scott and his girls. We were able to hang on at the end.”
In the first period, neither team could get going offensively. The score was 5-5 after eight minutes with both squads having two points from the field and three from the foul line. However, Highland (7-11) turned things around in the second quarter.
Guinevere Jackson opened the quarter with a three-pointer and Brylinn Tuggle followed with five points, while Emma West scored four to turn a tie game into a 17-5 advantage.
Bradley noted that a change on defense helped lead to the offensive explosion, as his team was able to get out in transition.
“It was just kind of a change-up defensively, which is what jump-started us offensively,” he said. “We had a lot of turnovers and missed lay-ups, so something to jump-start us offensively was really helpful.”
Mount Gilead (8-11) would battle back in the final minutes of the quarter, getting five points from Grace Simpson and two each from Madilyn Elson and Greer Simpson to close within a 19-14 margin. However, the Scots would take the momentum into the locker room after Jackson connected from deep in the final seconds of the half to put her team up by eight.
“We had many opportunities and just couldn’t take advantage of them,” said MG’s Scott. “We couldn’t get that next big bucket. We were missing lay-ups and free throws and they were taller than us. We got our two big girls in foul trouble and had match-up problems.”
Mount Gilead would use threes by Elson and Aubrey Thomas to get back within five at 27-22 in the third quarter, but another Highland run pushed their lead back to double figures. Jackson hit her third three of the game, while Kameron Stover and West both scored two points and Ryleigh Howard hit a free throw.
While the Indians got a three from Elson to beat the buzzer, they still trailed 35-25 going into the fourth. Scott noted that Elson had a good game with 19 points — nearly half the team’s overall total — but MG needed more scoring from other players.
“She needed some help,” he said. “Teams this time of year scout you and know what you’re going to do. You have to execute.”
Highland would open the fourth with four points by West and a three-pointer by Abby Jordan to move in front by a 42-27 margin with five minutes remaining. While MG did close back within single-digits with a run, they would not get closer than eight points the rest of the way, as the Scots earned a road non-league win.
West led Highland with 19 points, while Tuggle scored 11 and Jackson hit three threes on her way to a 10-point performance. Bradley noted that his team is working to continue improving as it gets closer to the postseason.
“We want to keep getting better every day,” he said. “There’s a lot we can learn from tonight. We have two conference games and two non-conference games left; we just want to work on getting better.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS