WEST ALEXANDRIA — Twin Valley South girls basketball (4-12) picked up its fourth win of the season in a 46-40 victory over Stivers School for the Arts on Tuesday, Jan. 19.
The Panthers opened up an early lead over the Tigers with three 3-pointers and four trips to the free-throw line in the first quarter, taking a 16-3 lead after eight minutes.
Stivers’ only points came on a 3-pointer on their first possession.
“The goal coming into the game was to hold them low, play good defense,” South coach Lindsey Cole said. “We didn’t know a lot about them coming into the game. They had only played two games.”
South led 24-7 late in the second quarter, but six unanswered points by Stivers made it 24-13 entering the locker room.
In the third quarter, Stivers made five trips to the free-throw line, converting on 4-of-8 shots, but South scored 16 points to keep the deficit at 14 entering the fourth.
“I thought we could give them a little pressure, go for steals, but honestly our biggest defensive give up was they got to the free-throw line a ton and were able to run the floor in transition,” Cole said. “They had a lot of either layups or contested layups that we fouled and they got points through those.”
The Tigers got to the free-throw line 13 times, but were just 11-of-22 from the key. South, on the other hand, made 14 trips to the free-throw line, connecting on 18-of-25 (72 percent) of their shots.
The Panthers hit six shots from three-point range, and with 18 points coming from the free-throw line, South had just 10 points come inside the arc.
“Getting to the free-throw line obviously helps us and we shot pretty well from the line, so that helped us get some points on the board,” Cole said. “But offensively, we struggled to score otherwise.”
As Stivers attempted a comeback, cutting the deficit to as few as six during the fourth, South had just one made basket during the final quarter as the Tigers began to click on offense.
“The second half we we weren’t as patient as we needed to be. At halftime, I said, ‘Patience is key. We’ve got a lead here. Don’t force anything, be patient, get really good looks on offense.’ I think if I could change one thing about the way we played, it was just to add a little more patience into our offense.”
Though Stivers outscored South 15-6, the deficit was too great to overcome as the Panthers ran the clock out for the 46-40 win.
Senior Mackenzie Neal led the team with 19 points, 13 of which came at the free-throw line. Junior Abby McGuire scored eight points as seniors Maycie Davidson, Taylor Clark and junior Makiah Newport all scored six points. Senior Kailee Burkett also added one point.
Cole said she believes the Panthers can compete well in most of their remaining games.
“Compared to the first half of our year, we played a lot of tough games, it was hard to get some momentum. But right now, starting with this game, I think we can start to build up some momentum to finish out our year.”
South later fell to Mississinawa Valley 55-49 on Thursday, Jan. 21. The Panthers were scheduled to host Dayton Christian on Monday, Jan. 25, and Newton on Thursday, Jan. 28, before traveling to face Preble Shawnee on Saturday, Jan. 30.
Reach Braden Moles at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @BradenMoles