LEAVITTSBURG - While LaBrae outscored Girard in the fourth quarter, the Indians had too much momentum from the previous frames and secured the 50-45 victory. Three Girard players scored in double figures to lead the Indians to the All-American Conference, National Division victory.
"We came out and did the things that we were supposed to do," Girard coach Andy Saxon said. "We wanted to get the ball inside because we had a size advantage. In the second half, they started to press us a little more and we started to panic a little bit and throw the ball away. Having (Bree) Bishop out (in the third quarter) didn't help things. Our key was to get the ball inside because of our size. In the first half we did, but in the second half we did not. I give credit to them. They pressed us and we turned the ball over."
Once the buzzer sounded to begin the fourth quarter in the showdown, chaos appeared to ensue.
The Vikings were down by 11 and urgency kicked into the shooting hands of sophomore forward Lauren Rutherford. Six of the first eight points for the Vikings flowed from her hands in the fourth. Rutherford drained 12 points in that quarter to help close the margin. She finished with seven field goals and went 7 of 10 from the line for a team-high 22 points.
Although Rutherford's efforts were noble, the Indians led the entire game. LaBrae evened the score at 44 with 2:03 remaining. That was the closest the Vikings came to taking over the lead.
Bishop came back into the game in the fourth quarter and made two field goals in the next minute to ice the victory for Girard. She finished the game with 14 points. Girard junior Alasjia Dykes joined Bishop also with 14.
"I think we helped a lot," Dykes said. "We knew what we had to go out there and do. I think that me and Bree worked well together. We needed to get it in to our bigs and I just needed help out scoring. So I think that helped out a lot."
In regards to Bishop, Saxon knows her worth.
"She's (Bishop) our go-to player," Saxon said. "She brings the ball down for us. She kind of calms things down. I think that some of the other girls made too many unforced errors. We had 15 turnovers in one quarter. We can't do that. When they started making their outside shots, now we put ourselves in a jam. We have to try to pick it up on defense but we really didn't pick it up."
LaBrae coach Lisa Aldridge was unavailable for comment after the game. She got two technical fouls late in the game and was ejected.
Going into halftime, the Indians held the 26-11 advantage. When talking about the difference between the two halves, Saxon attributes the switch to the intensities in both teams.
"I think that they came out with a little more intensity in the second half," Saxon said. "We came out with more of a let down in the second half. We didn't really play good half-court defense. They were making easy passes, they were able to reverse the ball. We didn't rebound very well in the second half. Then they started making some shots in the fourth quarter. They got hot which sometimes that happens. You let a team back in the game and give them some enthusiasm and excitement they start making shots. I knew they could shoot outside. We also had too many turnovers."