NEODESHA — The Girard Trojans girls’ basketball team captured the Wilson County Classic Tournament Championship for the first time since 2011, beating Fredonia 53-47 Saturday evening.
"Give credit to Fredonia, who played like a team on its come court tonight being the No. 1 seed," Girard head coach Brad Herlocker said. "They have a really nice team. We had a lot of players step up tonight. Our girls showed composure up one with 4:30 left to come out and execute to make plays when they needed to. They really growing up."
Junior Ashley Ray and sophomore Sydnee Crain provided shut-down defense in the final quarter to lead to their team. The 6-foot-4-inch Ray blocked 10 shots in the game, including two on back-to-back Fredonia possessions in the fourth quarter. While Ray used her height, the 5-foot-2-inch Crane had two steals late in the fourth quarter to halt a Yellow Jacket rally. Crane would also come off the bench to lead the Trojans in scoring with 15 points.
"Sydnee had a ton of steals for us in the first half and down the stretch in the game. She also had some key free throws to help us ice the win," Herlocker said. "Ashley played well the whole fourth quarter with four fouls. She hit important shots throughout the game and made some exceptional defensive plays down the stretch. If you have watched her, they seem routine, but they are really special.
"Lauren Franklin hit some big shots for us in the first half, and Calea Augustine also hit some clutch free throws down the stretch."
Both teams came out running the court in the opening period. Led by their own 6-foot-player, Dakota Corle, the Yellow Jackets dominated the rebounding battle on both ends of the floor. While Ray got off to a strong start scoring eight points in the opening minutes, Fredonia was able to use second-chance opportunities from offensive rebounds to keep the score close.
Leslie Robinson hit a fade-away jump shot as the first quarter buzzer sounded to cut the Trojan lead to 14-11.
The pace of the game stayed fast in the second quarter, but both teams had trouble finding the basket early.
Midway through the second period, Crane came off the bench and seemed to give Girard a spark. Crane hit consecutive baskets to stretch the Trojan lead to nine points.
Fredonia sophomore Whitney Solander put the breaks on the Trojan run, however, hitting consecutive 3-point baskets to bring the halftime score to 28-23.
The third quarter saw the tempo slow down, as each team became more aggressive on defense and officials called more fouls.
Girard saw the effect of the fouls as Ray picked up fourth foul midway through the quarter and had to take a seat on the bench.
Fredonia junior Nicole Blackwill began to make her presence felt and was able to keep the score close.
While both teams made appearances on the free throw line, Fredonia was not able to capitalize as well as Girard.
The Yellow Jackets only went 1 for 6 from the foul line in the quarter.
But the biggest blow to Fredonia’s hopes of a tournament title came from a late third-quarter injury. As she was coming down from a successful layup, Robinson landed awkwardly on her knee. The game was halted as Robinson held her knee in pain and had to be carried off the court. She was unable to return to the game.
Girard head coach Brad Herlocker took a chance and placed Ray back on the floor to start the final quarter with four fouls. But Ray was able to avoid a fifth foul while still making an impact on the defensive end of the court.
Blackwill continued to find the basket and was able to hit a shot to bring the score to 44-43. But that was as close as the Yellow Jackets would be, as Girard was able to hit clutch free throws down the stretch. The Trojans finished the night going 10 for 15 from the line. Blackwill hit one last basket to lead all scorers with 16 points, but it was not enough to keep the Trojans from taking the tournament title.
Trojan boys follow up with Wilson County Classic Championship
Drew Davied exploded for 16 third-quarter points to lead Girard to boys’ Wilson County Classic title over Fredonia 87-67.
David’s third-quarter surge was part of a 20-2 run in the quarter that broke the game wide open in what had been a close game. After Fredonia’s Carter O’Dell tied the game at 44, Girard head coach Rod Wescott called a timeout. His team responded by shutting down the Yellow Jackets offense and going on an offensive tear lead by Davied and Laike Damman. The last five minutes of that third quarter contrasted what had been a back-and-forth matchup.
Both teams entered the game with undefeated 10-0 records, and came out with physical play to open the game. Girard committed 12 team fouls in the opening period and the game was halted for an extended period of time to clean the court after Girard’s Eric Wilson caught a stray elbow that resulted in bloody nose. Girard would finish the period leading by six.
The two teams traded hot streaks for the second quarter. The Trojans went on a 9-2 run to extend their lead. At that point, Fredonia Senior Isaac Ostrosky found his shooting groove. Ostrosky hit a series of thee point shots that Girard couldn’t seem to stop. Ostrosky would finish the first half with 18 points, culminated by a driving layup that also generated a fouls for a three-point play. The play gave the Yellow Jackets two point lead that they seemed poised to take into the locker room for halftime. But Damman hit a 3-point shot at the buzzer to give the Trojans a one-point advantage at the break.
Wescott said he advised his team to stay poised at halftime.
In a post-game interview, Wescott said Fredonia’s full-court press was the toughest pressure his team has felt all season. He said he felt if his team could get the ball in the hands of David and Damman, they team could handle the responsibility.
The pair were able to beat the press in the third quarter and managed to draw fouls while scoring. David was able to draw fouls on three successful baskets in the opening two minutes of the third.
After giving up 14-straight points to Girard, Fredonia’s Kaden Unruh hit a basket to make the score 57-46. But Damman responded immediately with a three-point basket that seemed to stop a Yellow Jacket comeback before it could start.
Ostrosky who had been held to three points in the third quarter found his outside shot again in the fourth quarter. He hid four outside shots to reduce the Girard lead to nine points, but the Fredonia defense still had no answer for David and Damman. Ostrosky matched David’s 32 points in scoring for the game. The pair fell five point shy of tying the tournament’s single-game scoring record.
The Wilson County Classic title was the first for the Trojans since 2009, which was also the last year both Girard boys’ and girls’ teams won the tournament in the same year.