Eagles endure Tigers’ rally
By Greg Gulas
Daisjha Parks scored 16 points while Taylor Jones and India Snyder each added 11 markers to pace Valley Christian to a 54-48 victory over Springfield Local on Monday at the Tigers Gymnasium.
The win was the second straight for the North Coast Conference Eagles (11-7), who have now split their last four outings while the Inter Tri-County League Tigers (11-8) dropped their third consecutive contest and have now lost three of their last five games.
“We didn’t work hard defensively in the first half and still had a three-point lead, so I told the team at halftime that we needed to pick it up in the second half if we expected to win,” Parks said. “The key was communication and effort because we were able to turn a three-point lead into a nine-point lead heading to the fourth quarter.”
In a nip-and-tuck opening period that featured four ties and five lead changes, six points by Parks helped the Eagles forge a 12-10 margin after the first eight minutes of play.
Two triples by Nicole Bovo helped the Tigers open the second quarter on an 8-5 run, turning a two-point deficit into an 18-17 lead at 4:49 of the period.
Five points by Jones was good enough to neutralize six points each from Springfield’s Taylor Coy and Bovo as the Eagles opened a 27-24 advantage at the intermission.
Coy also hooped 16 points for the Tigers with Bovo (12 points) and Ellie Centofanti (10 points) also hitting double-digits for Springfield.
“We’re a fast-paced offense and a fast-paced defense that likes to trap, but we didn’t play our game tonight. We have to be able to go on the road against a well-coached team with a rich basketball tradition like Springfield and impose our will,” Eagles Bill Hoelzel said. “Not that we weren’t able, we were unwilling. We’re very young and this game taught us a lot about mental toughness. Our free throw shooting tonight was an indication of our lack of focus.”
Valley Christian was just 10 of 22 from the free throw line while the Tigers managed 9 of 14 from the charity stripe.
Four points each from Snyder, Parks and Imane Snyder to start the third quarter helped the Eagles stretch their margin to 39-27, settling for a 39-30 lead heading the final quarter after Coy’s bucket and a free throw by Haley LaMorticella at the end of the period.
“We started slow and knew that we had a job to do defensively in the second half,” Jones said.
Five free throws by Coy started a 9-2 run by the Springfield as they pulled to within 41-39 with 5:36 remaining.
Four points by Jones then helped create some distance for the Eagles as they stretched the lead to 52-46 with 1:22 left.
A bucket by Centofanti cut the margin to 52-48 with 41 seconds left, ending the scoring for both teams.
“We haven’t shot free throws well the last few games and tonight. We didn’t take advantage of our lay-up opportunities in the opening half,” Tigers coach James Schuler said. “We had good looks but couldn’t convert. Their run at the outset of the second half created some distance, but to our credit we fought back and never gave up. We just needed to make some plays. Their ability to control the offensive boards was big as well.”
Turnovers were also costly for both teams as Valley Christian committed 17 miscues and the Tigers 19.