SHADYSIDE - The phrase 'tale of two halves' can be a bit cliche. But it's use was spot on when describing Monday night's high school girls' basketball contest inside the Tiger Den.
Monroe Central used a 20-2 scoring spurt that stretched from the latter stages of the second quarter to the end of the third as the catalyst for its 53-44 victory against Shadyside.
The Seminoles (1-1) trailed by as many as 13 points during the first half, but righted the ship in almost every phase of the game in the second to earn their first victory of the season.
MONROE CENTRAL’S Kaleigh Marley (14) and Annie Digity (30) battle against Shadyside’s Kenzie Fielding for a loose ball during Monday’s game in Shadyside. Marley came down with the rebound and Monroe Central prevailed in the game.
"We knew we had to get in gear in the third quarter or the game was over pretty much," Monroe Central head coach Troy Baker said. "We felt like we had to do it there or we were in trouble."
That simple sentiment was pretty much the feeling of every Monroe Central fan in the building. But Baker was right.
The Tigers (1-2) had produced an 8-4 run of their own to end the first half and ran into the locker room with a 29-20 lead and most of the momentum.
"We had way too many turnovers (16) in the first half and we weren't finishing at the hoop,'' Baker said. "We rushed a lot of shots in the second quarter (when the Seminoles scored six points). They were pretty good shots. We just missed some layups."
Meanwhile, the LTs were finding plenty of flow in their offense from the likes of Toni Andes, Kenzie Fielding and Lindsey Dunn.
An Andes layup, followed moments later by a Dunn baseline jumper, gave Shadyside a 25-16 lead. Andes canned a 3-pointer a short time later to up the advantage to 28-16.
Back-to-back buckets by Carly Baker trimmed the Seminoles' deficit to nine at halftime and foreshadowed the final 16 minutes.
"We changed up our press a little bit,'' Baker said referencing his team's halftime adjustments. "Maybe (Shadyside) didn't take care of the ball as well as they did in the first half.
"We tried to plug up the middle a little bit and it seemed to work."
Monroe Central's defense stymied the Lady Tigers and led to many a transition basket.
Laycie Ball, who scored a game-high 15 points, popped in back-to-back layups to make the score 29-25.
Later, following a Shadyside time out, Ball drove the lane for another layup at the 3:45 mark of the third quarter to trim the lead to one, 29-28.
Then, at the 2:10 mark, the Seminoles grabbed the lead, 30-29, when Kelsey Dick scored off a nifty feed from Allison Kuhn.
A free throw by Annie Digity made the score 33-31 with 1:04 left in a quarter in which Monroe Central outscored Shadyside 16-2.
"I think Troy did a nice job of changing defenses, which I think, confused our kids a little bit," Shadyside head coach Jim Miller said. "It caused us maybe to try to read too fast what was open against one and what wasn't open against the other and that's what he was hoping for and that's what he got."
That, in turn, Miller said, created tougher passing angles and, thus, helped the Seminoles create turnovers.
Despite the third-quarter lull, the LTs entered the fourth only trailing, 36-31.
"I thought if we could've got down the turnovers we'd be in it,'' Miller said. "It just seemed we were running against the tide."
Shadyside was fighting an uphill battle in the fourth.
Ball's back-to-back layups gave Monroe Central a 42-33 lead with 5:33 remaining.
The Lady Tigers drew to within six three times in the final quarter, but pulled no closer.
Digity and Kuhn both backed up Ball with 11 points. Dick grabbed nine boards and dished out five assists.
"I'm pleased with all seven players that got in,'' Baker said of his team, which plays host to Magnolia on Thursday. "It's still a learning process for some of them. But they're coming on."
Andes paced Shadyside with 14 points. Fielding had a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Dunn scored 11 points.
The Lady Tigers travel to University on Wednesday.
"It's going to be growing pains, baby steps, all of those things with us," Miller said. "I hope people stay patient with us.
"We're not going to make excuses. We got beat by the better team. That's all there is to it."
Monroe Central won the junior varsity contest.
MONROE CENTRAL (53) - Miller 0 1-2 2; Baker 2 3-5 7; Kuhn 3 4-5 11; Marley 1 1-2 3; L.Ball 7 1-5 15; Dick 2 1-2 5; Digity 3 3-6 11. Totals 16 14-27 53. SHADYSIDE (44) - Eneix 0 3-4 3; Dunn 4 2-5 11; Fielding 5 3-5 13; Andes 4 4-4 14; Johnson 0 3-4 3; Hendershot 0 0-0 0; Archer 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 15-22 44.
3-Point Goals: MC - Digity 2, Kuhn. S - Andes 2, Dunn.
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