GIRARD — Nothing came easy for either of the Girard High School basketball teams on Tuesday night against Baxter Springs, but the Trojans managed to come out with a pair of wins following late-game dramatics.
LADY TROJANS RALLY IN SECOND HALF
A fourth-quarter rally by the Lady Trojans lifted them to a 54-49 win over the Lions.
Girard trailed for a majority of the contest, but overcame a double-digit deficit on the strength of a late 15-4 run en route to out scoring Baxter 28-14 in the fourth quarter.
“They were running with a small rotation and we had a lot of players rotating in and out,” GHS head coach Brad Herlocker said. “We were able to get Sydnee [Crain] a couple breathers while not letting up on our intensity. We probably gave up more easy looks tonight than I would like to — especially in that fourth quarter — but we stayed the course and the kids kept pushing the tempo. I thought somewhere in that fourth quarter, we wore them down and we were able to gut out a win.”
The Lions dictated the flow of the game throughout the first half and expanded their lead to double digits at 35-23 at the one-minute mark of the third quarter.
A layup and a free throw by Jacey Murphy at the end of the third sparked a 15-4 run by the Lady Trojans — which included four points apiece from Crain and Jaada Valley — to give them a 38-37 advantage with six minutes remaining in regulation.
Baxter took the lead right back by scoring four consecutive points, but it didn’t last long, as Girard went back out in front 45-43 at the three-minute mark following five points by Crain and a pair of free throws by Valley.
The Lady Trojans held on for the win, as they knocked down seven free throws down the stretch.
As a team, GHS went 20-for-23 at the line, with 17 free throws coming in the fourth quarter.
Crain was the offensive catalyst in the win with 29 points, while her teammates Valley and Murphy posted nine points apiece.
GHS BOYS HANG ON TO BEAT LIONS
The Girard boys’ team followed up the girls’ win with a 55-52 victory to complete the sweep over the Lions.
A third-quarter rally by the Lions gave them a one-point advantage after trailing the entire first half, but the Trojans managed to regain momentum by starting the fourth quarter with a 10-2 run before sealing the win with free throws down the stretch.
“I think persevering is something we’re doing a better job of,” GHS head coach Rod Wescott said. “We understand it’s a game of runs and teams are going to gain offensive momentum sometimes. They’re a very good team and tonight was similar to our first matchup. Our guys are starting to learn that it’s going to be a dog fight every night, so we just have to keep our composure, keep playing our game and keep working hard. If we do those things, good things will happen.”
After holding a nine-point lead halfway through the third quarter, the Trojans found themselves trailing 44-41 heading into the fourth following 12 consecutive points by the Lions.
Girard took the lead right back with six consecutive points to begin the fourth scored between Ryder Worrell, Caleb Muia and Brett Ferguson.
GHS extended the lead to five before Baxter tied the score at 51-all with two minutes remaining in regulation, but a free throw from Muia and Worrell put the Trojans up by two with 30 seconds left.
The Lions drew a foul in the following possession and nearly tied the scored, hitting one of two from the line to keep Girard on top 53-52 with 15 seconds left.
Ethan Goff went to the line after being intentionally fouled by Baxter and nailed both shots to increase the lead to three points.
Baxter then came up short on a 3-pointer at the buzzer in the final possession, which sealed the win for Girard.
Muia and Worrell were the offensive catalysts in the win, scoring 19 and 11 points respectively.
The Trojans will hit the road to take on Fort Scott at 6 p.m. on Friday.
— Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.