The Fort Scott Tigers and the Girard Trojans have developed a solid basketball rivalry in recent years.
In the opener Friday night at Ted R. Taylor Gymnasium, the Girard girls won a thriller 39-36, sparked by 11 fourth-quarter points by senior guard Hadyn Herlocker and highlighted by a pair of her old-fashioned three-point plays. It was a game marked by intense defense and physicality all over the floor.
“I think Coach Armstrong (Fort Scott head girls coach Jeff Armstrong) does a great job with his defense and I’d like to think we do as well,” Girard head coach Brad Herlocker said. “That’s what you saw in that first half, two very good defensive gameplans play themselves out. I don’t know if that sells a whole lot of tickets but, as far as coaching goes, I thought it was a well-played game.
“We’ve had a stretch of four-five games (with Fort Scott) where it’s come down to the very end of the basketball game and luckily, for whatever reason, we’ve been able to pull that game out. A very quality basketball club, I can’t say enough about Fort Scott and their players.”
Fort Scott defenders Katren Rienbolt and Hannah Tourtillott (predominantly Rienbolt) hounded Hadyn Herlocker all over the floor and the Tigers did a good job of limiting other Girard offensive players.
“Hadyn always gets that attention,” Coach Herlocker said. “I feel like they are good defenders in general and then to put sometimes a second or influence with a third good defender, it’s probably going to shut you down.”
Fort Scott center Brianne Lawrence helped the Tigers dominate rebounding, especially in the first half (19-6 edge at halftime). Fort Scott finished with a 28-16 rebounding advantage.
“They’re bruisers inside and they have the size advantage inside,” Coach Herlocker said. “I really can’t say enough about the post defensive effort we had and our overall team defense, especially in that second half. I felt like we got that quick help in and didn’t let that post player go 1-on-1 down low. It was really successful.”
Fort Scott led 18-16 at halftime and the Tigers had their opportunities for a bigger halftime lead. The Tigers had 18 points, 19 rebounds and 15 turnovers at the half and finished with 21 turnovers.
Girard came back to knot it up at 27 after three and gained a five-point advantage a couple minutes into the fourth on five straight points by Hadyn Herlocker — she picked Fort Scott point guard Maddi Allen’s pocket and drove in for a layup, drawing a foul and making her free throw, and she made another basket for a 32-27 lead.
Fort Scott gained a 34-33 lead with 1:43 remaining on a pair of free throws by Lawrence. Herlocker answered with her second old-fashioned three-point play, flipping up and in a borderline circus shot upon contact and making her free throw for a 36-34 advantage. Fort Scott tied it up with a Lawrence basket and Girard closed out the scoring with three free throws.
Page 2 of 2 - Girard (7-2) begins play Monday in the Wilson County Classic.
Fort Scott boys 45, Girard 35
Girard did not answer the first quarter bell and did not realize there was a basketball game being played until the second quarter. The Trojans trailed 9-1 after one quarter and did not register its first make from the field until the 5:57 mark of the second quarter on a Trenton Stolte basket.
“For the last three quarters, I was proud of them,” Girard head coach Rod Wescott said. “They played hard, battled and competed. I was not very happy with our focus coming out. I didn’t think we were ready to play the first quarter. It showed and they got after us pretty good that first quarter. We couldn’t get anything going and a lot of that had to do with our mindset. It took us a quarter to get going and you can’t do that against a good team.”
Girard outscored Fort Scott 28-21 in the middle quarters but the Tigers won the fourth quarter 15-6 and the game by 10 points.
Freshman Drew Davied gave Girard its first and only lead at 21-19 but Fort Scott responded with nine straight points on consecutive 3-pointers by Alex Fink, Austin Sather and Jash Pytlowany.
Girard junior guard Devin Alters scored all 12 of his points in the third quarter on three 3-pointers and an old-fashioned three-point play. His old-fashioned three-point play made it a 30-29 game entering the fourth.
“Part of the reason he got it going was they took the Stark kid (Johnathan Stark) off him,” Wescott said. “The Stark kid did a nice job. He’s a good athlete, very quick and they didn’t want him (Alters) getting any looks tonight. Jeff (Fort Scott head boys coach Jeff DeLaTorre) had us scouted really well tonight.”
Speaking of Johnathan Stark, the Fort Scott senior guard came up big with all nine of his points in the fourth, including seven free throws.
Fink led all scorers with 15 points and Garin Sinn added 10. Pytlowany had eight, six of his points on trifectas.
Drew Davied scored nine for Girard and Cody Grilz added eight.
Girard (5-4) plays Monday in the Wilson County Classic.