Through the first portion of the season, Bellaire head coach Marci Bonar hasn't had to question her team's effort or desire once despite a six-game losing skid.
The Lady Reds stayed the course and, after Monday's hard-earned 60-51 victory against invading Barnesville, they've now won two straight as they took down homestanding Edison this past Saturday.
"A win is a win," Bonar said. "I tell the girls all the time that no one deserves to win more than this group. They work so hard, and I am glad it's turning around for them."
While the Lady Reds have made solid progress, Barnesville head coach Jamie Carpenter finds himself lamenting the same things on basically a different night as his club fell to 2-5 on the season.
"We're weak, we're not basketball intelligent and we didn't match Bellaire's toughness for three-and-a-half quarters," Carpenter said. "We let Bellaire take the game at us until the final few minutes."
The Lady Shamrocks, who never led in the game, trailed by only six, 27-21, at the intermission. However, Bellaire came out of the half and played with a strong sense of urgency.
The Lady Reds closed the third with an 13-4 run. Sophomore Kierstyn Kidder caught fire in the third, scoring eight of her game-high 22 points in the period.
As it turned out, the Lady Reds needed almost every bit of the 45-32 cushion it built entering the third. The lead swelled to as many as 17 points after Elisha Gillespie tallied early in the fourth and hard-working senior Cari Crozier made good on a pair of free throws.
The Lady Shamrocks wouldn't go away, however.
Partly because they started converting shots and taking care of the ball and also partly because Bellaire didn't manage time and score well.
"We're lucky that we played such a great three quarters, so that our mental mistakes didn't kill us," Bonar said. "We played well early. We hustled our butts off, got a lot of steals and we scored a lot of points off our defense, which is what we want to do."
Barnesville's Shayla Markovich fueled the Lady Shamrocks' rally, which got them as close as seven, with nine of her team-high 13 points in the fourth.
"I told the girls that if we played as hard as we did for the first 28 minutes as we did in the final four, it might have made a difference," Carpenter said.
Kidder's production was complemented by Crozier's 14. Aubrey Ryan had a strong game with six points and eight rebounds.
Barnesville had a quartet in double figures. Marrissa Burge had 11, while Miranda Plumly and Raquel Bahmer evenly divided 20 points.
The Lady Shamrocks were charted for 32 turnovers, which was nine more than the winners.
"That (turnover total) is absolutely insane and ridiculous," Carpenter said. "We work every day in practice and then, in the game, we tell them where to go. That's where I am talking about the basketball sense. You'd think the kids would understand after you tell them something. It's just frustrating as all get out."
Markovich led all rebounders in the game with 11 to finish the double-double.
Barnesville's Hannah Hannahs goaled late in the second overtime to lift the visitors to a hard-earned 35-33 victory in the prelim.
The Lady Big Reds will seek their third straight win Thursday when Harrison Central visits. Barnesville, meanwhile, remains on the road and will visit Union Local.
BARNESVILLE (51) - Ralston 0, 0-1 0; Broomhall 0, 0-0 0; Bruce 0, 0-0 0; Huntsman 0, 0-0 0; Hanlon 3, 1-2 7; Plumly 5, 0-0 10; Burge 3, 4-6 11; Bahmer 4, 2-2 10; Markovich 6, 0-4 13; Totals: 21, 7-15 51. BELLAIRE (60) - Kidder 8, 3-5 22; Smith 0, 0-0 0; Crozier 3, 7-9 14; Messenger 2, 0-0 4; Gillespie 3, 0-0 6; Ryan 1, 4-4 6; Crook 2, 0-0 4; Green 1, 2-3 4; Totals: 20, 16-21 60.
Three-Point Goals: Ba - Burge, Markovich. Be - Kidder (3), Crozier.