West Holmes Girls Basketball

Torrid comeback bid falls just short as Lady Knights fall to Rams 61-56

Regan Wilcox

When struggles come, the one thing the West Holmes Lady Knights have relied on was their defensive presence. On a night when West Holmes finally put it together on offense, their defense failed to show up until the end.

After struggling to put points on the scoreboard for much of the season, the West Holmes Lady Knights were enthralled to post 56 points in their contest with Mansfield Madison on Thursday, Jan. 4 at The Dungeon at West Holmes High School.

However, the normally solid defense struggled throughout the majority of the second half, and that left the Lady Knights reeling from a 61-56 loss that left head coach Lindsy Snyder very disappointed.

“We have to defend,” Snyder said. “We gave up entirely too many points because we didn’t take pride in one-on-one defense. We have to be responsible for that.”

Snyder said the key culprit on the night was her team’s inability to box the Rams out on the glass. “We need to get into somebody and push them back, and we don’t do that right now.”

West Holmes got off to a nice start in the game, getting out to a 14-13 first-quarter lead, thanks in large part to Kaylor Perone’s ability to get deep into the paint against the Rams’ defense and Charolette Brown’s activity underneath.

Later in the second quarter, Paige Race hit the Lady Knights’ only three-ball of the game to give West Holmes a 21-20 lead. It would be the last time West Holmes would lead, although they did tie the game late in the half when Brown scored inside.

When Perone hit a layup with time dwindling in the half, the Rams’ lead was one at 28-27. However, Rams’ head coach Brian Davis was about to make a game plan adjustment that would help his team build a nice lead in the second half.

“We said at the half that we wanted to get the ball into Becca, and we found a way to get her the ball, and she capitalized on it,” Davis said.

The Rams made a concerted effort to hammer the ball into the low post to Rebecca Phelps, and it paid off. Phelps went to work, and Tara Andrews knocked down a jumper, but Kaylin Martin’s and-one drew the Lady Knights to within two at 34-32.

Phelps then netted six points around a Brown score inside before freshman Chesney Davis canned a triple right before the end of the quarter to give the Rams a 47-40 edge and some serious momentum in what had been a close game throughout.

While Davis was busy hitting shots including another three-ball that gave Madison a 54-41 lead, West Holmes was struggling mightily at the line, going just 2-of-8 in the early fourth quarter.

When Phelps scored again inside, Madison had built its biggest lead at 56-42 with about four minutes to play. With three minutes to go, West Holmes still trailed by 14, but things were about to get interesting.

West Holmes suddenly roared to life defensively with a trapping full-court press and in its half-court set. Race scored on a put-back, Martin drained two free throws, and after Brooklyn Arnold split a pair of free throws, West Holmes came storming back. Down 59-48, the Lady Knights began causing all kinds of turnovers, and they took advantage to trim the deficit to three points.

Race drove for a score and then hit three free throws to make it 59-53. She drove again and scored to cut the Rams’ lead to four, and with under one minute to play, Regan Wilcox’s 3-pointer hit the front iron. West Holmes caused another turnover and got it back, and Wilcox split two free throws to draw West Holmes to within 59-56 with 27 seconds to play.

The incredible effort over the game’s final minutes was impressive, but Snyder said her team has to understand that giving that kind of an effort is more than just a three-minute stretch.

“We have to understand that we have to play like that the whole time, “Snyder said. “We talked about that before the game We have to play with that intensity for 32 minutes, and we finally decided to play like that late. We have seen bits and pieces, but we don’t understand how hard we have to play defensively to win a game.”

Forced to foul, it would be Arnold who would step up and deliver, hitting two huge charity tosses with 21 seconds to play to push the lead back out to five. West Holmes still had life, but Brown’s three came up short, and the ball went to Madison. West Holmes then dug deep, getting a five-second call on the inbounds play, but the Lady Knights could not get a 3-pointer to fall, and the comeback bid came up shy.

“Right now we are kind of going through the motions, and things aren’t going to just happen. There is a lot of little things that we aren’t fully understanding yet.”

Snyder said one positive on the night was her team’s ability to cut down on its turnovers. She said they focused on that in practice, and it paid off as the Lady Knights committed just 11 miscues.

“We played really well offensively. That is where we want to be, but defensively we weren’t near where we need to be.”

Phelps ended the night with a game-high 17 points while Davis added 14, Arnold tacked on 13 and Leah Boggs added 11. The Lady Knights were paced by Race and Perone, who both netted a dozen points, while Brown added 10, Martin scored nine, Maddie Woods scored six, Wilcox added four and Taylor Miller rounded out West Holmes’ scoring with three.

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