GIRARD — Pink filled the gymnasium inside Girard High School on Friday night when the Trojans took two games over Liberal, with the girls winning 57-47 followed by a 66-51 win by the boys team.
Nearly every fan in attendance was wearing pink shirts as part of a fundraiser long-time GHS staff member Cindy Owen, who is battling cancer.
LADY TROJANS GAIN MOMENTUM LATE
Neither team could pull away in the first three quarters of the back-and-forth affair, until an offensive surge by the Lady Trojans in the fourth quarter led them to a 10-point victory.
“We didn’t get a bunch of steals with our full-court pressure, but I think we wore them down,” GHS head coach Brad Herlocker said. “Overall, I’m not sure we did that great of a job rebounding through three quarters, but in the fourth quarter, I feel like we really tightened down. We were able to limit their possessions and I think that really helped us.”
Liberal gained its largest lead of the contest at 23-19 halfway through the second quarter after outscoring GHS 7-2 in the opening three minutes.
Girard came back to take the lead with just under three minutes remaining in the first half on the strength of six consecutive points scored by Jordanne Ferguson, Kynzie Smith and Sydnee Crain.
The lead went on to change hands four more times at the end of the second and beginning of the third quarter, with Liberal taking a one-point deficit into the final eight minutes of the contest.
Girard took control in the fourth quarter, as Sydnee Crain scored five of eight unanswered points to put the Lady Trojans up by nine with two minutes left in regulation.
A layup by Brittley Bailey and a pair of free throws from Gabbi Sands and Crain protected the lead 10-point lead for Girard down the stretch.
GIRARD BOYS HIT STRIDE IN SECOND HALF
After trailing for a majority of the first half, the Girard boys’ team caught fire in the third quarter and kept the momentum going in the fourth to seal the 66-51 win.
“I was just really pleased with our effort in the second half,” GHS head coach Rod Westcott said. “I thought our kids really played hard and did some nice things. They beat us to a lot of loose balls in the first half, but we started to play hard in the second half to come out on top. We really had to scrap and some kids made plays down the stretch.”
An 8-2 run by the Trojans halfway through the second quarter gave them their first lead at 20-18 since the opening seconds of the contest.
Caleb Muia was a big factor in the comeback, pouring in seven of the eight points in less than two minutes to put Girard back on top.
Liberal regained the momentum and scored six consecutive points at the end of second quarter to take a three-point advantage into halftime.
The Trojans came alive in the second half, as they started the third with an 11-3 run en route to outscoring Liberal 22-11 in the quarter.
The offensive explosion — led by Muia’s 10 points — gave GHS a 46-38 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Liberal kept pace with Girard in the early going of the fourth quarter, but the Trojans sealed the win with a 14-2 run to end the game.
Ethan Goff had a big hand in closing out the game, scoring five points in the final three minutes to finish with 15 points on the night.
Muia was the team leader in scoring with 31 points, while his teammate Evan Troike chipped in 10.
The Trojans will hit the road to take on Iola at 6 p.m. on Monday.
— Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.