WYOMING - Ending a stretch that saw the Midland girls basketball team take the court four times in a seven-day span, the Eagles struggled to find offense during a tough 45-20 setback hosting Tipton Monday, Dec. 14.
“Playing four games in less than a week proved to be a challenge for us,” said Eagle girls basketball coach Jason Soper, as his team did hold a 6-5 lead after one quarter of play against the Tigers.
“Not having a day off and playing over the weekend and on a Monday night is definitely something I am glad we don’t have to get used to. I feel that, for whatever reason, our girls have tired legs right now, and with our offensive challenges right now that makes it tough, especially mentally.”
Ella Rupp got the Midland (0-7, 0-1) jump started against Tipton drilling a pair of first quarter 3-pointers as the hosts led by a point at the first horn, but points would be tough to come by from there on out for the Eagles.
“I was pleased with the way we started the game,” Soper said. “Defensively, to hold Tipton to only five first quarter points, we were playing a very sound game. Offensively, it’s very important for Ella to get off to a good start shooting and I was glad to see her knock those first two down.”
After Rupp’s second trey, at the four-minute mark of the opening frame, Tipton would hold Midland scoreless for the next 10 minutes going on a 15-0 run taking a 20-6 lead before Ari Hacke scored for the Eagles with a minute to play in the half.
Jaden Gatts added another 3-pointer for the hosts and Midland went into the halftime break on the short end of a 20-11 score.
“We made a little run at the end of the second quarter, including a buzzer-beater by Jaden,” Soper said. “She did a great job of not hesitating and took the shot. I really felt with that bucket we would carry that momentum into the second half, and it did carry through a good part of the third quarter.”
The Eagles held the Tigers to a mere eight points coming out of the break while scoring six of their own, including a Amaya Terrell 3-pointer, and trailed 28-17 heading into the fourth quarter.
“We came out with lots of energy in that third quarter and went on a 10-0 run and made it a four-point game (20-16),” Soper said. “I was super-pleased with the resilience of our team, but as has been the problem of late, we hit a bit of a wall and had a couple of defensive lapses and got completely shut down in the fourth.”
The Tigers closed the game on a 17-3 run as Allison Paulsen scored the lone field goal in the final frame for the hosts while Hannah Fishwild added a free throw.
“I thought we played well enough defensively, but turnovers and offensive struggles proved to be too much,” Soper said.
Rupp’s six points paced the Eagles who struggled shooting connecting on 25-percent of their shots from the field overall though the team was 44-percent (4-of-9) from beyond the arc.
After getting a few days off, Midland stayed at home Friday, Dec. 18, and got off to another quality start against visiting Bellevue-Marquette in the first Tri-Rivers Conference East division contest of the season.
“I was very pleased with the way we came out playing very physical and as always played sound defense,” said Soper, as his team raced to an 8-2 first quarter lead only to see the Mohawks rally for a 38-29 triumph.
“Positive takeaways were, we had a more balanced scoring attack with Ari leading the way with 10 points, 10 rebounds and three assists.”
Gatts hit two first quarter baskets while Hacke added another before Paulsen connected twice from the free throw line and Midland had their quick 8-2 lead.
Bellevue-Marquette rallied in the second quarter going on a 13-7 run to knot the score at 15-15 at the half.
After scoring six quick points to open the third quarter taking a 21-19 lead, the Mohawks rallied again closing the frame on a 9-0 spurt to take a 28-21 advantage into the fourth.
Hacke fueled a furious last-gasp comeback scoring three baskets during the final eight-minute stretch, but clutch free throw shooting from the visitors kept the hosts at bay.
Terrell connected twice from beyond the 3-point arc and tallied eight points in the game for the Eagles while Gatts tallied six.