NEW PARIS — Game one jitters showed for National Trail’s girls basketball team during the opening game of the season.
But to the Blazers credit they were able to withstand a third quarter rally by Dayton Christian and begin the season with a win.
The Blazers played stifling defense on their way to a hard-fought 32-23 victory on their home court on Tuesday, Nov. 28.
Points were at a premium for both teams early as the Blazers took an 11-8 lead into halftime, limiting the Warriors to only two made field goals in the first half.
“We’ve really focused on our man to man defense this year, and I thought, the girls did a great job of keeping the energy on that side of the floor,” Trail coach Ken Stewart said. “Offensively, we didn’t play with patience and poise, and we missed a ton of layups.”
Five Lady Blazers each had buckets in the first half, featuring great team play and even scoring amongst the squad, according to Stewart.
The third quarter had its share of momentum swings with each team making significant runs while Dayton Christian started hitting from the outside. Ultimately, the Lady Blazers slammed the door on the Warriors in the fourth quarter, limiting them to no field goals.
“Dayton Christian, they weren’t shooting threes very well in the first half,” Stewart said. “Then in that third quarter when they made their run, I think they hit three of them in a row. And that could have broken our backs, but it didn’t, because our girls stayed together, and they knew what our goals were for this game.”
Junior Josie Stiner led the Blazer attack with 11 points, Senior Kendyl Johnson threw in six, while Junior Belle Anderson and Sophomores Ollie Mason and Morgan House each contributed four. Junior Hannah Henderson made three crucial free throws to round out the Blazer scoring.
“The defensive effort was strong all evening, with two drawn charges and a five second call which frustrated Dayton Christian until the very end,” Stewart said.
With just one senior on the roster, Stewart said his team needs to learn to play with patience and poise.
“I think they really bought in, and they got to see the things we’ve been working on all in the preseason, are coming to fruition and the things work,” Stewart said. “If we can just have a little more patience, and poise on offense and be stronger with the ball so we don’t have 400 jump balls, like we did tonight. That would be fantastic.”
Stewart said first-game jitters may have been a reason for the rushed play.
“Our girls were not hitting from the outside. I think we may have had one shot outside the paint that fell. We didn’t take a lot of shots. I’m not sure we took any threes. Which is fine. But I felt I felt like the scoring was pretty even because we have a team that looks for each other. Sometimes we make one pass too many, which, you know, to their credit, they’re looking to be unselfish and that’s part of our culture,” he said. “But you know, first game of the year there are going to be some jitters.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on X @emowenjr.