BY AARON PATTERSON firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — WESTVILLE — In full disclosure, Westville girls basketball coach Mike Chandler wasn’t quite sure what to expect out of his team this year. His starting five consists of one senior, one junior, two sophomores, and one freshman.
In all, the Tigers don’t have an excess of varsity experience on this year’s roster. But, the area coaching veteran has so far been impressed with what he has seen.
Backing up Chandler’s claim, the Tigers took another step toward reaching their potential on Thursday and defeated the Georgetown-Ridge Farm Buffaloes 56-53 in come-from-behind fashion.
“I’ll be honest,” Chandler said. “I knew because of how young we are, it would be tough this year. They have surpassed my expectations at this point of where I thought we would be at the end of the year.
“They have surpassed my expectations of where I thought we would be this year. They are far ahead of schedule of where I thought we would be.”
Westville junior and three-year varsity member Jicee Lacey made sure her team continued to impress Chandler, and saw an opportunity to build on what it has already accomplished by stealing the win from the Buffaloes.
After a relatively quiet first three quarters, Lacey scored 10 the Tigers’ first 11 points of the fourth quarter. They fought their way back from a six-point deficit, and took their final lead of the game at 51-49 with three minutes, 23 seconds to play on a basket by Morgan Gallion (nine points, two steals).
It was the Tigers’ first lead since late in the second quarter when the Buffaloes (4-7 overall, 1-4 in the Vermilion Valley Conference) took control of the game. Georgetown-Ridge Farm used a 19-5 run in the second quarter and held Westville (4-9, 2-3) to only seven points in the period. Five came on free throws.
Coming off a 38-point performance, Georgetown-Ridge Farm senior Brittany Hay was held scoreless in the first quarter and missed her first 10 shot attempts. She, however, finished the second quarter with six points and scored 13 in the third period in an effort to keep pace with the Tigers.
“I think what really sparked us was the play of Aubree Brookshier,” Georgetown-Ridge Farm coach Michelle Brooks said. “We needed someone to step up and make some baskets. She had some big steals and some big breakaways that put us back in the game.”
Brookshier scored 13 points and finished with four rebounds, three assists and three steals while Hay scored a game-high 21 points to go with her 10 rebounds, five assists and five steals.
But just as quickly as the Buffaloes took control, the Tigers regained the momentum on Lacey’s perfect shooting performance in the final period.
“Defensively, we broke down a little bit,” Brooks said. “I think out of their last six shots, they were all off of offensive rebounds. We stopped rebounding the ball defensively. Offensively, we were still right there. We just couldn’t get the stop we needed on defense. When the game’s that close, that makes all the difference.”
Lacey scored a team-high 17 points and had 10 rebounds and three blocks. Adrianne Pate also had a double-double with 15 points and 11 boards.
“I think talking and communicating with each other was our biggest thing,” Lacey said of the comeback effort. “We were working as a team, and we got excited.”
Georgetown-Ridge Farm is scheduled to host Hoopeston Area on January 6 while Westville will take its new confidence to Bismarck for the Blue Devil Classic which begins December 26.
While this season has already been better than expected for the Tigers, they look forward to having even more success in the second half of the season.
“This season has been a big shocker to me because we have a lot of younger girls out there,” Lacey said. “It’s all been a big shock, but it just gets us all pumped each game. That was a big win for us.”