West Holmes Girls Basketball

No moral victories as Lady Knights fall to Lex

Lady Knights take Lex to the wire before falling 40-37

Facing a 12-4 Lexington team that had not one but three extremely tall players who can dominate in the paint was a tall task for the Lady Knights as the two teams squared off in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game in The Dungeon at West Holmes High School on Thursday, Jan. 25.

The Lady Knights, who are fighting through growing pains and injuries this season, looked poised to pull off an extremely huge upset. But Lexington came up big when it had to, erasing a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit, and when a last-second desperation 3-pointer didn’t go, West Holmes had dipped to 2-13 with a 40-37 loss in a game in which Lindsy Snyder’s crew played well for most of the game.

While that alone was justifiably a reason to celebrate, Snyder said there are no moral victories, only another loss in a game that was right there for her team to win.

“We’re starting to figure some things out. We played with some composure much of the game, and it feels like we are starting to mature a little bit,” Snyder said. “But it still hurts. We played well, and a lot of kids did things to contribute, but in the end it is still extremely frustrating as players and coaches to play that well and not finish it.”

When a young team is struggling to find wins, every time a winnable game arises, they must battle through the lack of understanding exactly how to finish off a good team. That was the case here, where an aggressive defensive effort against the much larger Lady Lex put the Lady Knights in position to gain a valuable victory.

Instead, it all came crashing down, despite their solid effort.

“There’s a fine line between slowing things down and playing with composure and maintaining that aggressiveness that got us the lead in the first place,” Snyder said. “You don’t want to be up 10 and play out of control, but at the same time we have to figure out how to finish games, staying in control while maintaining that cushion. That just comes down to learning how to win games.”

The two teams struggled to put together much of an offense early on. Only West Holmes senior Kaylor Perone seemed to be able to find success, and her five points put the Lady Knights in front 5-4. When she hit a jumper late in the first quarter, West Holmes held a 7-6 edge. However, West Holmes went completely cold in the second period when it got only a Charolette Brown score and a Regan Wilcox 3-pointer. Lady Lex got strong play inside from Julia Kocher and Olivia Kearns to push out to a 13-12 half-time lead.

The Lady Knights then came out of the locker room at the half and played what may have been one of their best quarters of the season. Seven straight points, including a trey from Taylor Miller, a Perone score in the paint and another Perone jumper, gave the Lady Knights a 19-13 edge. Kocher and Natalie Beer scored inside for Lexington, which now seemed intent on abusing West Holmes inside with its height advantage.

With West Holmes getting beat up in the paint to the tune of a 50-to-20 rebounding advantage for Lexington, it was a small miracle that the Lady Knights were in the game at all, let alone leading at 19-17.

However, West Holmes was about to turn up the defensive effort with a full-court press, and that caused numerous turnovers. The Lady Knights took advantage. Perone scored off a steal, and after Beer hit again inside, Kaylin Martin crushed home a pair of 3-pointers to give West Holmes a 27-19 lead.

Gabby Stover scored by slicing through the West Holmes defense, but Paige Race’s free throw kept West Holmes up by seven heading into the fourth quarter.

When Race canned a triple to start the period, the Lady Knights were up 10 and looking good. Then in what seemed like a heartbeat, it all fell apart.

Lexington went on a tear, reeling off an 18-2 run led by Beer that put West Holmes behind the eight-ball, down 39-34 with less than 30 seconds to play. The big blow during that run was Lady Lex’s only 3-pointer of the night, a rainbow from Courtney Thompson that put Lexington ahead 37-34.

“She comes off the bench for us, and that is what we look for from her. She stepped up and delivered when we needed her to,” Lexington head coach Heidi Roush said of Thompson.

However, West Holmes then showed some maturity and fought back. Race split a pair of free throws, and after Stover split a pair of free throws to put Lex up 40-35 with 13 seconds to play, Perone drove the length of the floor and scored with 4.9 seconds left to carve the deficit to 40-37.

Now down one possession, West Holmes had a chance, and it gave itself a shot at tying the game. Lexington had trouble getting the ball inbounds and launched the inbound pass to mid-court, where Perone leaped and picked it off. She fired a pass to Martin, who was defending the inbounds pass along the baseline. Knowing it would take a three to tie, Martin dashed to the corner, spun and chucked up a prayer, but the shot sailed just wide left, and Lex had escaped with the win.

“That was a battle. Both teams were just going at it, and the referees were letting them play,” Roush said. “I am proud of our kids. We got down by 10, and we never gave up. We played hard. We are a big team, and we actually had to play smaller to defend that team. They forced us into a lot of turnovers, and we are really glad to get out of here with a win.”

Lexington was led by Beer’s 13 points while Kocher added eight and Thompson scored seven. Kocher added a game-high 10 rebounds while Beer collected eight, and the disparity in rebounding led to plenty of second-chance opportunities for Lady Lex.

Despite getting out-rebounded that badly, West Holmes did so many things well that it gave them a shot at the upset. Leading the way was Perone, who tallied a game-high 16 points and added three steals as her lengthy run of nice games continued. Martin also stepped up, scoring eight points, hitting the two huge threes, while collecting four steals. Race added five points, and Wilcox and Miller tacked on three points apiece.

“For our young kids, this is part of the learning process, but for a senior like Kaylor, who for the last three weeks has played really, really well, these are really tough to take. She has stepped up and made a huge turnaround in her game. Tonight she guarded a post player for us. It’s a process for our young team, but for her the process is over. These are the games you really want to win for seniors like that.”

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