BY JOHN DUBOIS
Senior Ashley Hoffman hit two free throws with 4.2 seconds to go to give the Westville Lady Tigers a 37-36 win over the Armstrong-Potomac Lady Trojans.
According to Westville coach Mike Chandler one the Tigers biggest strengths this season has been their ability to win close games by not getting frustrated and finding ways to win late and the Tigers were able to do just that Monday.
After leading for all but a few seconds of the game the Trojans had rallied to tie the score at 32-32 and again at 35-35, but a strong defensive effort and some key points from Hoffman was enough to secure a win that was in doubt to the last second.
The Trojans had a chance to send the game to overtime with 0.4 seconds left, but only converted one of two free throw attempts.
“We played pretty well tonight and overall this was one of our better games,’’ Chandler said. “We moved the ball well, looked for each other on the floor, and played well as a team.’’
The win moves the Tigers to 8-13 overall and 5-3 in Vermilion Valley Conference play and moves Westville to within one game of the conference leading Trojans who are now 11-7 overall and 6-2 VVC.
“We have been playing a little flat and ran into some tough games at the Bismarck tournament over the break,’’ Chandler said. “This was a good win for us over a very good team. Nick (Hipsher) does some nice things at Armstrong-Potomac and they maybe didn’t play up to the level they are capable of tonight, but I think our effort had a lot to do with that and I have nothing but good things to say about our team.’’
Hoffman had a game-high 16 points with Danielle Gabehart adding 11 for the Tigers who got out to a 7-0 lead and led 14-6 after the first quarter.
“The slow start hurt us and we were chasing the entire game,’’ Hipsher said. “We have to learn to play with pressure.’’
The Trojans would get their offense going in the second quarter and a late 3-pointer by Morgan Zindars would cut the Westville lead to 19-16 going into halftime.
Zindars would lead the Trojans with 13 points. A combined 11 points were scored in the third period as the Tigers ended the period with a 25-21 lead. The Trojans would take their first lead early in the fourth and led again for a few seconds with 5 minutes to go.
With just under 3 minutes to go and the score tied 32-32 Hoffman hit a shot as she was falling to the floor to swing the momentum back to the Tigers.
“Ashley had a pretty good game tonight,’’ Chandler said. “We were very patient on offense all night and late in the game didn’t panic. We have been working on that a lot and its something that is a process for a team to learn.
“When you are more patient the whole thing is that it causes you to play more together as a team. It not only gets your main scoring options better shots, it gets other players involved to and we were able to get a lot of open shots tonight.’’
Free throws were a key through out the game with the Trojans struggling early and late from the foul line.
“We looked better in the fourth (15 points) but you look better when the ball goes through the basket,’’ Hipsher said. “Morgan Zindars had 8 points in the fourth, but we missed too many free throws (9 of 18) and too many lay-ups. We did do some nice things in the fourth, but you have to make free throws.’’
Both teams are at home Thursday with the Tigers hosting the Georgetown Ridge-Farm Buffaloes while the Trojans host the Milford Bearcats.