By Mike Myers
LOOGOOTEE - At the tail end of a long and thus far two-win season, it would have been easy for the Loogootee Lady Lions to come into Tuesday’s home game with Eastern Greene at Jack Butcher Arena with less than their best effort.
Instead, the youthful Lady Lions gave Eastern Greene a handful and then some.
And though the 52-48 overtime defeat still left Loogootee coach Josh Mullis less than satisfied, he could find plenty to be happy about in the loss.
“We’ve showed some growth from game one to game 19. We’ve been working our tails off in practice, trying to go back to the basic fundamentals. A lot of times with a young group you’ve got to do that,” said Mullis, whose roster includes just two seniors and a large freshman class. “Even with a veteran group you sometimes have to go back and touch up on things.
“It’s just taken a while for a bunch of freshman and girls who haven’t played for a while to understand what effort you have to bring to be successful at this level,” added Mullis. “I was proud of the effort but not happy with the loss, but if we bring that kind of effort and intensity next Tuesday (against Shoals in sectional play) then it can be another barn burner.”
Loogootee (2-17) trailed Eastern (9-9) for much of the game, including 20-10 after one quarter and 27-19 at halftime, yet the Lady Lions always kept the Lady Thunderbirds within range. A six-point Eastern lead after three quarters, however, disappeared in the midst of a 10-0 LHS run in the middle of the fourth quarter, That run was capped by a Macey Baxter 3-pointer which gave the Lady Lions a 43-40 lead with 3:30 left in regulation.
Eastern scored the next five points to forge a 45-43 lead with :56 on the clock, but senior Gabrielle Ritchey, who scored 12 points for Loogootee before fouling out in overtime, fed Emily Bateman for a bucket with :38 to tie the score at 45. Eastern couldn’t convert on its final possession as the two teams went to overtime.
Eastern quickly took a six-point lead in the extra session, but Bailey Davis’ third trey of the night brought Loogootee back to within three at 51-48 with 1:45 on the clock. But the Lady Lions would get no closer as a spirited effort fell short.
Baxter finished with 15 points to lead all scorers, while Davis netted nine points. Bateman and Taylor Hayes added six points apiece for the Lady Lions.
Loogootee was probably one defensive stop away from being able to finish off Eastern in regulation, something that Mullis was able to take heart in heading into next week.
“We didn’t stay with our fundamentals well, we kept shooting jumpers. We told them ‘Stay aggressive, go to the basket, they’re going to foul you more than likely, they don’t want you to score,’” said Mullis. “We were probably one more defensive stop and being smarter with the basketball, knowing time and possession, away (from winning). But that’s the things we’ve got to learn and grow with.
“But I told them after the game ‘20 quizzes and one final exam, if we can learn that on a quiz and mess up, we lost a game, but if we can learn for the final exam next Tuesday, then it’s worth it,’” said Mullis.
Alex Dubois topped Eastern with 14 points, followed by 10 from Amy Todd and nine apiece from Brittany Martin and Sierra New.
Loogootee will host North Knox on Thursday.
Eastern Greene 20 7 8 10 7-52
Loogootee 10 9 10 16 3-48
Eastern Greene (52)
Hannah Resler 1 0-2 2 3, Brittany Martin 2 4-6 3 9, Amy Tarr 4 2-3 1 10, Sierra New 4 1-2 0 9, Alex Dubois 5 4-10 1 14, Kym Arthur 3 0-0 0 7.
Totals: 19 11-23 7 52
Gabrielle Ritchey 5 2-4 5 12, Bailey Davis 3 0-0 4 9, Emily Bateman 3 0-0 2 6, Taylor Hayes 3 0-0 4 6, Ashley Lindauer 6 1-2 0 15, Kendall Riley 0 0-0 1 0, Brittany Woody 0 0-0 1 0.
Totals: 20 3-6 17 48
3-point goals: EG 3 (Resler, Martin, Arthur) L 5 (Davis 3, Baxter 2)
Junior Varsity: None