Oak Glen rallies past Toronto
TORONTO — When two friends meet on the basketball court, one has to win and one has to lose.
Coaches claim basketball is a game of runs, and Monday night’s match up between the Oak Glen and Toronto girls’ basketball teams certainly proved that point.
The Red Knights staged a rally to take the lead early in the fourth quarter, however, the Golden Bears recorded a rally of their own and found a way to earn a 61-55 victory inside the George J. Kunzler Memorial Gymnasium.
Oak Glen staged a fourth-quarter rally to pull out a victory at Toronto for the second straight season.
“We found a way to win, but I was not sure that we were going to be able to do that,” Oak Glen (5-6) head coach Scott Wiley said. “We did not take care of the ball as well as I would like us to. What we did was we did not stop on defense. That helped us the most. We scrapped. We clawed. We gave everything we had. We did not shoot the ball well.
“I tried to rotate girls into the game. I tried to give some of younger players some playing time because we want them to know what to do in situations like that. Alexus Greenlief came in and did a nice job. She rebounded well. We found a way to win. I’m not sure how.”
The game changed in the second quarter as the Golden Bears outscored the Red Knights, 20-4, in the quarter to turn a nine-point deficit into a seven-point advantage at halftime.
“We got off to a goods start, but then we had a horrible second quarter,” Toronto (6-9) head coach Rusty Hodgkiss said. “We gave up 20 points in the second quarter. Saturday, we gave up 28 for the whole game. We did not stop throwing the ball to the blue team. To give them credit, they are quick. They are aggressive. They are physical. They sped us up. They pressured us. We told the girls to be ready for their press. We wanted to accept it and attack it. We did that, and then we got a fatigued. We don’t have a deep bench. We got into foul trouble. We did not handle it well at all. They had their way with us.”
The Red Knights came back to tie the score in the third, but a 6-0 spurt helped the Golden Bears take a one-point lead into the fourth.
Toronto took a 41-40 lead in the fourth, but Oak Glen answered with a run of its own and the visitors built a 53-45 lead with 3:31 left to play. The Red Knights responded with a run of their own as they pulled within two points with 45.7 seconds left, but the victors tallied the last four points of the game to earn the victory.
“We try to rotate kids into the game,” Wiley said. “We wanted to wear them down. We wanted to try and be patient as much as we could. We tell everybody if you don’t play well in the first half, you are not going to play in the second half. At the end, we stuck with the girls we had on the court, and they got the job done.”
Though his team came out on the losing side of things, Hodgkiss was proud of the way his team battled throughout the game.
“I am proud of the kids,” Hodgkiss said. “They battled back. We had a bad second quarter and they could have packed it in and said that’s the way it goes, we were ready for it to happen and we could have gotten beat by 30, but that did not happen.
“The plan for this year is to compete. We fought back. We took the lead, but they did what they had to do. At one point, one of their girls got down on the floor and got a rebound, while four of our girls stood and watched. Oak Glen made all of the want to plays. They made the plays you don’t have to have talent to make, but they are talented. They made the want to plays, and we didn’t.”
Three players produced double digits in points for Oak Glen. Individually, Reese Enochs ended up with a game-high 16 points, Alexa Andrews tallied 13 points and Maddie McKay collected 12.
A trio of players also finished in double figures for Toronto Individually, Riley Kinsey recorded a team-high 12 points, while Maddie Anderson and Jensyn Jackson each delivered 11.
Enochs scored the first basket of the game, but the first quarter belonged to the Red Knights as Toronto built a 15-6 advantage heading into the second.
The second quarter belonged to the Golden Bears.
A basket by Andrews tied the score at 15 with 3:42 remaining to be played in the first half. Oak Glen ended the first half on a 9-2 spurt to take a 26-19 lead into the locker room at halftime.
“We played more aggressive,” Wiley said about what changed for his team in the second quarter. “We stared out in our half-court man. Then, we got into our full-court man. That got us going. In the half-court, we kind of sit back and then get ready. By switching to full-court, we are able to get up on people.
“When you play against a Coach Hodgkiss team, you know they are going to be aggressive. You are going to have to play well. They are going to play hard. They are never going to quit. You have to be ready.”
The Red Knights got off to a good start in the third, and a 3-pointer by Jackson gave Toronto a 30-29 lead. It was the team’s first lead since they were up 17-15 with 3:28 left in the second.
The victors responded with another 9-2 spurt to take a 38-32 lead on a basket by Greenlief, who finished with eight points. Toronto tallied the final five points of the quarter to pull within 38-37 entering the fourth.
“The thing with being competitive is when you lose it hurts,” Hodgkiss said. “If you lose by 40, you think OK we did not have a chance, but when you fought and still lose it hurts.
“I consider Coach Wiley a friend. You don’t like to lose to your friends. You like them, and you want them to have success, but you do not like losing to them.”
For the second straight season, the fourth quarter will haunt Hodgkiss. Last season, the Red Knights built a 48-38 lead in the fourth only to see the Golden Bears come back and win 62-60. Oak Glen outscored Toronto, 27-13, in that fourth quarter. Monday night, the difference was five points.
“They did. They came back again,” Hodgkiss said. “I am not going to be able to sleep for a couple of nights. We were down three, and things were a mess. I like it when things are a mess. I like our chances when things are a mess. I thought Jensyn Jackson was going to come down and pull up and hit a 3 in transition to tie the score. Instead of ordering a sundae, she ordered a plate of ice cream. She passed the ball to Abby Liddick. The pass was tipped and it went out of bounds.
“Enochs hit a big 3 for them. She shot it from like 25 feet. It was a big three for them. It touched nothing but net. We were on a run, but then she hit that 3. That was a big shot for them.”
The 3 by Enochs gave Oak Glen a 56-49 lead in the fourth.
Both teams are scheduled to play rivalry games Wednesday at home. Oak Glen is slated to play Hancock County rival Madonna for the first time this season.
“You always want to beat the teams in your county,” Wiley said. “Madonna has some big girls. They have some girls who can shoot. It is going to be hard, but we want it to be a close games. We are not a team that scores a whole lot. We are going to have to hold them down. It is going to be a tall task.”
On the other side, Toronto is slated to play Jefferson County rival Catholic Central for the second time this season.
“Doggone it, that game is like Ohio State-Michigan to us, and we have not found a way to compete with them,”Hodgkiss said. “We play teams that we compete with, play well against and beat. Those teams play Catholic Central, and they compete against them, they play well against them and they beat them. Oak Glen beat them. We don’t compete with them. We are going to have to play well. We played well for three quarters tonight, and we got beat. If we one bad quarter against then, we are going to get beat.”
There was no JV game.
OAK GLEN: 6-20-12-23–61
OAK GLEN (5-6): Giorgini 1 2-5 4; Enochs 5 4-6 16; Andrews 5 3-7 13; McNutt 1 0-0 2; McKay 5 2-6 12; Kranis 0 1-2 1; Arner 0 0-0 0; Brown 2 0-0 5; Greenlief 3 2-2 8. TOTALS: 20 14-28 61.
TORONTO (6-9): Cottrell 2 2-6 6; Beckwith 2 1-1 5; Liddick 2 2-6 6; Kinsey 3 5-9 12; Anderson 4 3-7 11; Jackson 3 3-4 11; Thomas 1 2-2 4; Anderson 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 17 18-35 55.
3-POINTERS: Oak Glen 3 (Enochs 2, Brown); Toronto 3 (Jackson 2, Kinsey)