The Galion girls basketball team has taken on the personality of their fiery first-year coach Nick Vukovich and it suits them perfectly.
The Lady Tigers knocked off Highland 54-51 in an overtime thriller on Tuesday night.
It was the Tigers third win already this season; they knocked off Mount Gilead and Crestline over the weekend.
Coach Vukovich stressed that “it was a rough week but we don’t play again until River Valley next Tuesday.”
The Lady Tigers 3-0 mark ties their win total from all of last season.
Junior point guard Jaime Ehrman led the Tigers with 25 points; she was aided by senior wing Taylor Valentine, who had 11 points.
The game opened at a frenetic pace with both teams pressing and playing man-to-man defense. The officials called it tight, assessing 11 fouls in the quarter, eight for the Scots and three for the Tigers. Galion took advantage at the charity stripe to keep the game close and trailed 14-10 at the end of one quarter of play.
Galion scored a pair of quick buckets to tie the game at 14-14 and held the Scots scoreless in the stanza, outscoring Highland 17-0 to take a 27-14 lead at the half.
Both teams settled into their half court offense in the second half of play and Highland combined a stifling man-to-man defense with hot shooting to outscored the Tigers 16-8 and pull to within five points of the lead at 35-30.
Vukovich warned his players at halftime that the Scots weren’t finished.
“I told them they (Highland) would come back and we had to respond,” he said.
Kenzie Fuller was crucial in the Highland comeback; she led the Scots with 18 points, 14 of which came in the second half. Fuller was 8 of 8 from the line.
The fourth period saw the Scots tie the game at the four minute mark. Ehrman and Valentine came up with big baskets and free throws to keep Galion in the game as the teams traded the lead back and forth.
With the game tied and less than a minute on the clock, Galion called a timeout with the hope of drawing up the game winning play.
The ball was inbounded to Ehrman who dribbled to the top of the key and inexplicably picked up her dribble, the five second violation turned the ball over to the Scots.
Vukovich explained that the design was to “run a back door play, unfortunately we haven’t practiced it that much. I drew it up in the huddle hoping to make something happen”.
Highland couldn’t capitalize on the miscue and the game went to overtime tied 43-43.
In the extra period both squads picked up the pace, there were eight lead changes in the session.
Nursing a one-point lead Highland looked to be in control as they began to run a weave at the top of the key forcing the Tigers to foul. The ensuing misses gave Galion the opportunity to reclaim the lead and the game
Ehrman came up big in the overtime scoring eight points.
When asked what he was most pleased with about the victory, Vukovich responded “I loved the overall effort, we never say die.”