By Dan Hiner
The Valley Christian girls basketball team got behind early to Garfield on Saturday night thanks to a 19-0 run in the first half.
But with the Eagles trailing 63-43 with less than five minutes to play, Valley Christian scored 15 unanswered points to climb back in it.
However some missed free throws and defensive lapses led Valley Christian to a 64-58 loss at home.
India Snyder scored four points, came away with four steals and blocked a shot during Valley Christian’s run. She said the combination of the 20-point deficit and adrenaline helped the Eagles fight their way back.
“We knew we were down,” she said. “We just had to hit our shots like we do in practice.”
India Snyder finished with 17 points, seven rebounds, eight steals and two blocks. Her sister, Imane Snyder, also scored 17 points and grabbed three rebounds.
Valley Christian’s Kristen Gill led the Eagles with 19 points, five rebounds and five steals.
Grace Mills led Garfield with 25 points and 13 rebounds. Forward Makenna Lawrence did some damage in the post. Lawrence also had a double-double, finishing with 16 points and 14 rebounds.
Garfield’s offense drove to the basket easily throughout the game. The G-Men (16-4) found open driving lanes thanks to screens and back-door passes.
“They weren’t doing anything we weren’t anticipating, we didn’t train for or we didn’t expect to come,” Valley Christian head coach Bill Hoelzel said. “But we weren’t having our backside rotation like we should have had.
“The problem was they were converting offensively and we’re missing wide open layups at the hoop. As many times as they scored, we missed wide-open layups. You can’t miss wide-open layups against a team that good.”
Valley Christian shot 26 of 79 (32.9 percent) from the field and only made one free throw.
Even though the Eagles’ offense struggled, Valley Christian converted Garfield turnovers into quick offense. Valley Christian finished the game with 19 steals.
Hoelzel received a technical foul after arguing a missed call shortly before the Eagles attempted their comeback.
Hoelzel thought the refs missed a foul, but he wanted to show his players that he had their backs.
“One of the quotes we use around her is, ‘I got your six.’ I had their six, I felt like there was a missed call,” Hoelzel said. “That’s a great refereeing crew. I don’t want to suggest anything otherwise. But I got the ‘T’ and it’s probably not coincidental that a little bit of a rally began after that.”
Hoelzel thought the loss can become a good life lesson for both teams. He said the late-game run should be an example of how to “answer the call.”
“When your number’s punched, you gotta respond,” Hoelzel said. “We didn’t in the first or second quarter, but what they did at the end of the game was exactly the opposite. They didn’t react to that huge deficit, they responded. And I can’t ask anything more than that. They left it all out on the court.”