When a team goes two quarters of a basketball game scoreless, it is a pretty good bet that the team is in trouble. That is what could be said for Coach Tony Williams and his 8th Grade North Adams Lady Devils last Saturday as they put their unbeaten season on the line when they went on the road to battle the Eastern Lady Warriors. The Lady Devils had not played for three weeks because of the holidays and weather issues and the rust showed as the Lady Warriors handed them their first defeat of the season, holding on in a low-scoring game for a 21-18 win.
“Early in the game, it really showed that we had not played in three weeks,” said Coach Williams. “The kids worked extremely hard over the break during practice, but it’s hard to simulate a real game atmosphere during practice. You also have to give Eastern their due. They were well prepared and they did an excellent job of taking away our inside presence.”
Neither team actually showed much life in the first quarter, as the only two points scored came from Eastern’s Mikayla Farris. The Lady Devils turned the ball over on their first eight possessions and the only shot they even got off in the first six minutes was blocked.
As the second period began, it looked as if the visitors had shaken off the rust as they rattled off the first nine points, getting a stick back from Brooklyn Stout, a free throw from Taylor Hesler, and then three consecutive baskets from Lakyn Hupp. All that Eastern could muster in the quarter was a Farris free throw and the half ended with North Adams on top 9-3.
“Give our kids credit,” said Williams. “They kept battling on the defensive end and our pressure was able to get some turnovers in the second quarter that allowed us to jump ahead before halftime.”
The tone of the game changed completely in the first minutes of the third quarter when the Lady Warriors scored on their first three possessions to quickly tie the game. The Lady Devils again went scoreless for an entire period and the home team recaptured the lead on a basket by Maggie Fultz and two free throws by Allison Day put them up 13-9 after three quarters.
“We kind of went into shock for about a minute and a half there at the start of the third quarter,” added Williams. “You cannot do that against a team like Eastern and they made us pay.”
The Lady Warriors converted a North Adams turnover into a Day layup on their first possession of the final quarter to take their biggest lead of the game at 15-9. The Lady Devils finally broke nearly a nine-minute scoring drought with a Hesler free throw with 4:08 to play. After another Day basket for Eastern, Hesler fired one in for the visitors but Day had another answer and Eastern was up 19-12 with just over three minutes remaining.
Back came the Lady Devils with one more furious rally that began with a Hesler free throw and a basket by Madee Shipley. Shipley came back to hit a three off an out of bounds play with less than a minute to go and North Adams was within one at 19-18. The Lady Devils immediately fouled Fultz, who missed the front end of the bonus, but on the other end, the North Adams shot attempt was partially blocked. The girl in green then were forced to foul again, this time sending Day to the line and she calmly sank both tries to give her team a three-point lead with 3.3 seconds to play.
Williams used his final timeout to set up a final possible game-tying shot but the Eastern defense did not allow any good look at the basket and the final horn sounded with the Lady Warriors grabbing their ninth win of the year, 21-18.
“I thought our kids did a great job at the end, just a couple of shots didn’t fall for us,” said Coach Williams. “We have to get better from the free throw line (3 of 11). We’ve struggled there all year long but this was the first time that it really hurt us.”
“We will learn from this game but we have to put it behind us and get back to work.”
The Lady Devils, now 7-1 in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference and tied for first with Eastern, were led in scoring by Lakyn Hupp’s 7 points. Madee Shipley added 5 and Taylor Hesler 4. Eastern (9-2, 7-1 SHAC) was led by Allison Day’s 12 points with Maggie Fultz adding 6.
If the two teams win out, they will play for the league title at North Adams in the final regular season game on Jan. 25.
0 9 0 9 —18
2 1 10 8 —21
N. Adams (18): Stout 1 0-0 2, Shipley 2 0-0 5, Hupp 3 1-4 7, Hesler 1 2-4 4, Harper 0 0-3 0, Team 7 3-11 18.
Eastern (21): Fultz 3 0-1 6, Day 4 4-9 12, Farris 1 1-2 3, Team 8 5-12 21.
Three-Point Goals: N. Adams- Shipley 1