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Girard takes down Niles after layoff

Indians earn 53-25 win over Red Dragons behind three 12-point scorers after almost two weeks off

Staff photo / Brian Yauger Girard’s Mia Malito drives to the hoop Wednesday night against Niles during the Indians 53-25 win. Malito scored four points for the Indians, who were playing their first game in almost two weeks.

NILES — Heading into Wednesday’s game against Niles, Girard coach Andrew Saxon was a little nervous. The team hadn’t played in nearly two weeks, so rust was inevitable.

The Indians started to shake off that rust midway through the first half as Girard powered through to beat the Red Dragons 53-25.

“The girls played really well,” Saxon said. “I was a little bit nervous coming in because we had been off for a while because of a couple cancellations. I thought they came out today and they really, really hustled from the first quarter to the fourth quarter. I told them, ‘That’s going to be the key. Who outhustles who, who plays harder,’ because it’s Christmas break.”

That rust was largely in the first quarter for Girard, who held a 10-6 lead after the first frame. As they got more and more comfortable going at game speed, the offense followed suit. Ezra Dede, who finished with 12 points, scored half of those in the second quarter. Dede, Sieasia Triplett and Abbie Rafferty each scored 12 points on the night.

“You’re a little bit rusty,” Saxon said. “We hadn’t played, they haven’t played either. Once we got in the flow, things were getting moving, we were working up a sweat, and then I think we kind of loosened up and then got back into the flow again.”

Going against a team that, in his own words, ‘never stops hustling,’ could end poorly. That being said though, Girard hustled from the opening tip, which was exactly what Saxon wanted to see.

“I think I was a little bit worried about coming to their place,” Saxon said. “They’re a very enthusiastic team and they hustle. I said ‘Let’s not be outhustled, because if we do, we’re not gonna be successful.’ They came out and I thought our kids really really hustled. I thought two of our girls did an excellent job on the boards. (Niles is) a little bigger than us sizewise, but I thought we did a nice job offensively and defensively.

Leading for the Red Dragons was Gianna Wagner, who had nine points. Abbey Reed tacked on five more.

The Indians sit at 6-3 on the season. With a roster of talented players, the main key for Girard to keep the success they’ve had rolling into 2022 mainly depends on health and focus. If they can stay healthy and focused, Saxon is optimistic on what the team can achieve.

“I think we have a lot of talent, it’s just bringing it to the surface and getting them to work hard,” Saxon said. “We always stress practice is harder than the games, just keeping them focused. It’s a long season, you want to be going uphill, uphill, uphill. You don’t want to falter and drop back down.

“It’s just keeping them motivated. Keeping them injury-free and not sick. That’s been a major key too. Staying healthy and injury free. I think we have a good shot of winning a lot more games.”

Both teams are off until the new year, returning to the court on Jan. 6.

Niles (0-7), hosts South Range and Girard heads to the Fieldhouse to take on Struthers.

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