MECCA - Halfway through the fourth quarter, Maplewood coach Mark Yoder found himself in a state of shock.
Admitting that Bristol outplayed his team for the better part of three-plus quarters in Maplewood's 66-64 win Monday night, Amanda Henderlight drained a 3-pointer to give the Rockets a 53-51 lead with 5:26 remaining - a lead that Maplewood never relinquished.
"For three-and-a-half quarters of that game, Bristol outhustled us, they outrebounded us, they shot better than we did from the field and the foul line and I was actually surprised that we were still in the game," Yoder said. "It wasn't until the last four minutes of the game that we actually started playing hard."
The Rockets (9-2) took this lead in the midst of a 15-2 run in a three-and-a-half minute span, which allowed Maplewood to erase a seven-point deficit and turn it into a seven-point lead.
It started with a spike in defensive pressure. Maplewood employed a full-court trap, forcing Bristol (8-5) to commit four turnovers that led to six points for the Rockets. When the Panthers managed to get the ball down the floor, they took quick shots that didn't fall.
Maplewood took advantage of these missed shots, draining two 3-pointers within a 30-second span. After Henderlight's shot, Miranda Sloan made it back-to-back trips down the floor for the Rockets at the 4:56 mark.
"Honestly, we just started getting steals, and our adrenaline just kicked in," Sloan said. "Intensity started happening. That should have been happening the whole game, but for some odd reason, it started in the fourth quarter."
After the run, though, the Rockets seemed to take the foot off the gas pedal, allowing Bristol to claw back into the game.
Ally Jones was a major contributor for Bristol during the final minutes. The senior center recorded three of her four field goals in the fourth quarter during the last three minutes of the game, including a layup with 22 seconds remaining that tied the game at 64-64.
Jones was a force for Bristol throughout the game, giving the Maplewood post players problems. Overall, Jones recorded another double-double, dropping 19 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
"(The Panthers) had a much better gameplan than they had the first time we played them," Yoder said. "You're not going to stop Allyson Jones from scoring. You can try to slow her down a little bit and keep her under her average, but you're just not going to stop her completely."
Despite Jones' game-tying layup, Laurin Elza fouled Sloan with 15 seconds remaining, and the sophomore point guard knocked down two from the charity stripe for the game-winning points.
Bristol coach Lisa Gabrielson refused to comment following the game.
As frustrated as Yoder was about his team play before taking the lead, he said blowing that seven-point lead was just as frustrating.
"When we built that lead, none of the defensive things we did we were supposed to do," Yoder said. "We kept giving up layups, we'd foul them on a shot and give up a three-point play, we'd give them offensive rebounds... We stopped doing everything that got us the lead."
Still, it's a big win over a rival, and the win gave the Rockets a season-sweep over the Panthers. Sloan and Yoder said Maplewood will take that.
"It feels great," Sloan said. "We're a winning team - we hate to lose. Coming out with two victories against Bristol is a big deal."