BY JOHN DUBOIS
Last season, the trio of Maya Green, Callan Hall and Brittany Hay led the Georgetown-Ridge Farm Lady Buffaloes to a breakout season that more than tripled their win total from the year before.
At the McDonald’s Comet Classic, the three have picked up right where they left off.
Led by a career-high 24 points from Green, a double-double from Hall (14 points, 16 rebounds) and a solid all-around night from Hay ( eight points, 10 assists), the Lady Buffaloes pulled away early Friday night and captured third place in the tournament with a 56-33 win over the Milford Lady Bearcats.
Green got off to a slow start, making two of her first eight shots, but she then connected on seven of her final 10 attempts. Green made four 3-pointers, but that wasn’t her goal.
“My teammates kept encouraging me that my shot would go and I felt it would come through,” Green said. “I don’t really look for 3’s, but just take whatever shot I am set up in.”
Green and Hay were named to the All-Tournament team.
“Maya, Callan, and Brittany work well together,” said GRF coach Michelle Brooks. “From the first practice this year ,the team has brought with them what they learned last season. We have a coachable and smart group of players.”
The Bearcats would take the early lead and the game was tied at 6-6 before the Buffaloes went on an 8-0 run to end the first period with a 14-6 lead. Green would hit a 3 right before the buzzer to send GRF into halftime up 31-14.
“Most of our games have been close early,” Brooks said. “Every game we look at the opponents’ starters and stats and look to someone to focus on shutting down and we were able to do that tonight, holding Samantha Wilken to two points. We were looking to hold them to outside shots, grab the rebounds, and go, and we did that well.”
It was a good week overall for Wilken, who was named to the All-Tournament team.
“That is a pretty sweet honor for Samantha,” said Milford coach Rod Burgett. “She has kinda been over shadowed the past few years, but she is the heart of our team. This was a tough game for us tonight, but you have to credit their shooters. We are finding our identity as a team and it’s a solid week for us to finish in 4th place.”
The Buffaloes would lead 44-22 after three periods and stayed consistent in the fourth quarter, which was a key for Brooks.
“We have not played well this week in the second half,” she said. “We let down in the second half in the loss to Shiloh, and one of our goals tonight was to play a second half like we had been playing the first half. We need to play four quarters of complete basketball, and we did a good job of that tonight.”
Though neither player scored, Brooks felt Hannah Brandt and Lexi Ovall made key contributions to seal the win.
“It doesn’t show up in the stat sheet, but both players stepped up well defensively,” Brooks said. “Hannah has been playing a key role as our 6th player and her defense off the bench really helped tonight.”
The Bearcats had their best quarter in the fourth sparked by two 3’s from Golene Thrush, who led Milford with 10 points.
In earlier action, the Blue Ridge Knights won the fifth place game 40-26 over the Westville Tigers. JiCee Lacey led the way for the Tigers with seven points and senior Ashley Hoffman was named to the All-Tournament team.
The Hoopeston Area Cornjerkers got 14 points from Shelby Holzinger and won the seventh place game 41-25 over the Uni High Illineks.
The host Oakwood Comets, under first year coach Jeff Ford, won the ninth place game 30-29 over the Chrisman Cardinals. Lexy Terry and Harlena Hardin led the way for the Comets with eight points each. Chey Warner paced the Cardinals with 13 points and the Cardinals’ Sarah Ellis was named to the All-Tournament team.
The Buffaloes move to 5-1 on the season and the Bearcats are 4-2.
In the Championship game, Shiloh defeated Heritage 38-30.