Lady Titans struggle down the stretch in home opener
Late in the first quarter and early in the second half, the Dickinson Trinity girls basketball team trailed by double-figures against Region 5 favorite Shiloh Christian, only to gradually chip into those deficits.
Through much of the final frame, the teams were separated by two to four points, but as the minutes clicked off the clock, the Titans could not find the magic in the final moments, falling in their home opener 43-33 on Saturday, Dec. 8, from the Knights of Columbus Activities Center.
In a comeback that fell short, turnovers and free-throw shooting derailed the Titans' hopes. Dickinson Trinity turned the ball over 14 times and made only 6 of 16 attempts from the charity stripe.
"Turnovers were the big key. Also, I look at our free throw shooting percentage and I don't think (through four games) we've been north of 50 percent one time," Titans head coach Carter Fong said. "In desperation mode, (Shiloh Christian) added a couple of buckets late, but really late in the fourth quarter, it was a one-to-two-possession game. Those one-to-two possessions could have been earned by either taking better care of the basketball or making free throws and bunnies. When we do those things, we can compete with anyone."
With just over four minutes remaining in regulation and the Skyhawks holding a 33-29 lead, Titans sophomore forward Abbey Kubas was short on a jump shot just inside the arc. Showing great awareness, senior guard Bre Tessier saved the ball before it went out of bounds. Senior guard Ali Daniel sprinted to the loose ball and was fouled on the follow-up, splitting a pair of free throws.
After an empty Skyhawks offensive possession, Daniel was sent to the line again, but like her previous trip, she could only convert one of her two freebies.
Kubas and Shiloh Christian sophomore center Jacie Hall traded baskets before the Titans had a chance to tie. Vacuuming in an long rebound, senior guard Alexa Walby pushed the ball up the floor, setting up a 3-on-2 fastbreak. Walby dribbled to her right and found Tessier alone in the paint, however Tessier's layup attempt painstakingly trickled off the rim.
On the ensuing trip down the floor, Hall scored down low, pushing Shiloh Christian's advantage to 37-33 with a short turnaround. Following a Titans turnover, Hall again was the option in the post. When Dickinson Trinity sent a double team, Hall kicked the ball out to open senior forward Olivia Martin, who sealed the game with a 3-pointer with 50 seconds left.
Hall and Martin each had 10 points to pace the road team
"They played hard, that's all I can ask of our girls," Shiloh Christian head coach Daryl Bearstail said. "We're a little young, inexperienced and banged up right now, but we came out with the win and its a credit to their effort. They played hard and I'm proud of them."
Scoring three field goals off turnovers as part of an 8-0 run, the Skyhawks jumped out to a 14-4 first quarter cushion. The Titans had trouble operating offensively against their opponent's traps at midcourt and zone defense in the half-court.
"Shiloh exposed something that's a weakness for us right now, but we hope can be a strength at the end of the year," Fong said. "This group hasn't played a lot of minutes together on the floor. We don't always know where to look with the ball when we are being pressured. ... Once we took care of the basketball, we figured out that when we play a possession-by-possession game, we are their equal."
Down by ten. Kubas sparked a rally in the second quarter. After draining back-to-back jumpers, Kubas stole the ball, dribbled it up court and nailed a pull-up shot from the free throw line.
Then, in a pick-and-pop play with senior guard Masy Kuntz, sophomore Amaya Willer knocked a baseline 12-footer, capping an 8-2 surge that pulled the Titans to 19-15 at halftime.
Scoring six points in both the second and third periods, Kubas poured in game-highs with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Of the Skyhawks' first eight fouls committed, the 5-foot-11 forward drew seven of them.
"There's no question that Abbey is a force. Her in the middle gives us a ton of options and ways to score." Fong said. "We're seeing good things out of her statistically. We're hoping that we can gel as a team around her."
The Skyhawks opened the second half with an 8-0 run. Freshman forward Grace Kelly and senior guard Rachel Mischel hit back-to-back 3-pointers, giving Shiloh Christian its biggest lead at 27-15.
When Kubas wasn't scoring, she was sucking the defense in, opening up opportunities in the perimeter. Dickinson Trinity responded with a 7-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer from guard Kara Wanner. The sophomore had six points on a pair of baskets from long range.
"I thought I played pretty good today, but it was my teammates getting me the ball to take those good threes," Wanner said. "I go into every shot thinking that its going to go in. And if it doesn't, I think about what I can do better next time to make that happen."
The next time the Titans return on the floor, they will host another Region 5 team in Wilton-Wing
"I am proud of the way we did our best to come together on the fly," Fong said. "We have a lot to figure out team-chemistry wise, but there's also a reason why we play 21 regular season games."
Shiloh Christian 43, Dickinson Trinity 33
SC 14 5 12 12 — 43
DT 5 10 9 9 — 33
SC: Jacie Hall 10, Olivia Martin 10, Allison Bearstail 8, Rachel Mischel 6, Kaszady Bearstail 3, Grace Kelly 3, Kelsey Mischel 2.
DT: Abbey Kubas 18, Kara Wanner 6, Bre Tessier 3, Ali Daniel 2, Amaya Willer 2, Alexa Walby 2.
3-pointers: SC 5 (Martin 2, R. Mischel 2), DT 3 (Wanner 2). Free throws: SC 5-8, DT 6-16. Total fouls: SC 13, DT 10. Fouled out: 1 (SC, Kelly). Rebounds: SC N/A, DT 36 (A. Kubas 12). Assists: SC N/A, DT 6 (Tessier 3). Steals: SC N/A, DT 3 (A. Kubas 1, Wanner 1, Daniel 1). Blocks: SC N/A, DT 1 (Willer 1). Turnovers: SC N/A, DT 14. Records: SC 3-1, DT 2-2.