Despite the season being just a bit more than two weeks old, the Williamsburg girls basketball team has faced an uphill battle.
The Wildcats started the season with just six players on both the varsity and junior varsity squads and, though they’ve gotten their numbers back up some, they haven’t been able to avoid injuries.
So when Southern Buckeye Conference National Division power Georgetown rolled into town last Thursday night it could have been easy for the Wildcats to roll over.
However, they did no such thing as the Wildcats battled the Lady G-Men from the outset — and took a one point lead into the halftime break — before coming up a bit short as they lost to visiting Georgetown 48-37.
“I’m actually really ecstatic about our kids effort,” Williamsburg coach Ken Lowe said. “Not just in the first half but the whole game.”
It didn’t start off all that well for the Wildcats. After Hannah Jones converted a layup in the post, the Lady G-Men had jumped out to a 5-0 lead a little less than two minutes into the game.
Tara Dennis got the Wildcats on the board with 5:24 left in the quarter when, off the dribble, she hit a jumper from the foul line with a Lady G-Men defender in her face.
The Lady G-Men answered Dennis’ bucket with two free throws from Madison Pack to increase their lead to 7-2 but that was the point when the Wildcats took off.
A Sarah Wetzel driving layup closed the gap to three before Dennis converted a fast break layup off a Georgetown turnover to make it a 7-6 game.
Teammate Heidi McManus tied the game at seven when she hit one of two free throws after she was fouled on a drive to the hoop with 2:28 left in the first quarter.
Not only did the free throw tie the game but it also was the second foul on Georgetown leading scorer Casey Carter. She would sit out the rest of the first half with the two fouls.
It was at that point that the Wildcats began to beat the Lady G-Men’s full court pressure defense and take back the momentum.
McManus was able to consistently get past the Lady G-Men defenders in the press and find her teammates open.
“We had to go back to our halfcourt defense because they were hurting us in our fullcourt pressure,” Georgetown coach Bernie Cropper said. “(McManus) was just getting through it and they were getting some open shots.”
Dennis scored back-to-back buckets right at the rim to give the Wildcats a two point lead before McManus found Mallory Guess wide open underneath the basket after she was able to get through a Georgetown trap at halfcourt. The basket gave Williamsburg a 13-9 lead as the first quarter was nearing its end.
Though neither team was able to do much in the second quarter, the Wildcats found a way to go into the break with the lead.
McManus converted a layup off of a steal to give the Wildcats a 15-13 lead with 3:55 left before half.
After Jones hit a free throw for the Lady G-Men, Wetzel answered with a bucket in the post to push the Wildcat lead to three, 17-14.
But Jones — who combined with Pack to keep the Lady G-Men close with Carter and second leading scorer Jesse Kidwell out with foul trouble — scored again in the post to make it a 17-16 lead at half.
“Hannah Jones and Madison Pack both were steadying influences on the floor for us with the other two girls off,” Cropper said. “Plus they did a good job on the Dennis girl. She’s a good player. They did a nice job boxing her out and making it kind of tough for her to get the ball.”
Despite the last two Jones buckets, Lowe was very pleased with the way his team played in the half.
“We played right there with them,” he said. “We did some different things but the kids came ready to play…(and) gave them all they could handle.”
The Lady G-Men — with Carter and Kidwell back in the game — wasted no time taking control as the second half started.
Carter hit her first 3-pointer of the game about 30 seconds into the half to give Georgetown the lead back 19-17.
An offensive rebound and putback by Pack followed by a Kidwell 3-pointer quickly pushed the Lady G-Men lead to seven, 24-17.
McManus stopped the Lady G-Men 8-0 run to open the half with a free throw before Dennis corralled an offensive rebound and converted the putback to bring the Wildcats back to within 24-20.
But, once again, Carter started another Georgetown run. This time, however, Carter did it herself as she scored six straight points to push the Lady G-Men lead to 10 pints, 30-20.
Then Dennis, who scored a team high 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds, answered. Her layup over two Lady G-Men defenders closed the gap to 30-22.
“She had a real good game,” Lowe said of Dennis. “She’s our leading scorer. Has been for the last couple years. I expect her to average between 15 to 20 points per game. But she did step up and play today.”
After Pack scored on another layup, Elizabeth Meisberger hit two free throws to bring the deficit to eight, 32-24, as the final quarter started.
But Georgetown scored seven straight to start the fourth quarter, punctuated by a cutting layup by Becca Whitaker off an inbounds pass, to put the game out of reach with about six and a half remaining.
The Wildcats (1-4, 1-1 SBC-National) could get no closer than 11 in the final quarter as they fell short despite a valiant effort.
McManus scored 10 points and dished out five assists for the hosts while Wetzel scored six points.
“For us, I look at it being a win-win situation for us,” Lowe said. “I think it’s the closest game they’ve had this year and hopefully in the next game it will be a different outcome.”
It was Carter, who scored 16 of her team leading 18 points in the second half, who led the way for the Lady G-Men (4-0, 2-0 SBC-National). Kidwell added eight points while Pack, Jones and Hatfield scored six apiece.
“I thought our defense in the third quarter was outstanding,” Cropper said. “We were much more patient in the second half offensively.”
Georgetown (4-0) – Hatfield 2 2 6, Kidwell 3 1 8, Whitaker 1 0 2, Carter 7 2 18, Jones 2 2 6, Happ 2 2 6, Gast 1 0 2. Totals: 18 9 48.
Williamsburg (1-3) – McManus 3 2 10, Wetzel 3 0 6, Meisberger 0 2 2, Dennis 8 0 17, Guss 1 0 2. Totals: 15 4 37.
Halftime: Williamsburg 17-16. 3-Pointers: G 3 (Carter 2, Kidwell); W 3 (McManus 2, Dennis).