ORWELL - An exasperated Mark Yoder could do nothing more than bemoan missed opportunities when he walked out of the Maplewood locker room following the Rockets' Division IV district semifinal loss to Villa Angela-St. Joseph at Grand Valley High School.
The Maplewood coach watched from the sidelines as the Rockets blew an eight-point second-half lead and eventually lost in overtime to the Vikings, 43-33. VA-SJ finished the game on a 25-7 run over the final 12:30 of the game that started in the final minute of the third quarter.
After the game, Yoder's message to his players was clear.
"I basically told them, "You weren't beat by the other team - you were beat by yourself,' " Yoder said. "When you have that many scoring opportunities and just don't put the ball in the basket, that's just beating yourself."
Following a Brooke Dawson layup at the 2:04 mark in the third quarter, Maplewood (20-5) went 3 of 24 from the field the rest of the way, missing almost everything from shots in the paint to mid-range jumpers and 3-pointers. To make matters worse, the Rockets failed to convert the front end of one-and-one's three times in the fourth quarter, all of which could have stemmed the bleeding when the Vikings (15-7) came storming back.
Maplewood also committed eight turnovers, including five in the first 5 minutes of the fourth.
"We missed all our easy shots," Yoder said. "We were missing layups, missing free throws, missing open outside shots."
In the extra period, Miranda Sloan gave the Rockets the lead back with a layup on the team's first possession, but that was short-lived, as VA-SJ (15-7) answered with a Mariah McGhee steal and layup at the 2:47 mark to tie it back up at 32. On the Vikings' next possession, Tyanna Foster scored her only two points in the game by picking up an offensive board and recorded a putback basket to give them the lead for good.
VA-SJ didn't need to take another shot, as they went 9 of 10 from the charity stripe in the final minute-and-a-half to pull away late. Mariah McGhee, who finished with a game-high 22 points, shot 4 of 4 and Brijae Journee went 5 of 6.
"I thought that might have been the thing we needed because we had been playing from behind for so long," VA-SJ coach Tony Redding said of Foster's go-ahead score. "We got that basket, and it was a spark for us. It gave us a sense of, 'Hey, this can get done. We can get it done.' And that's what happened."
Dawson paced the Rockets with a double-double, dropping 15 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. The senior center played a big role in Maplewood amassing that eight-point lead by scoring six points in the third, all in the paint.
"I'm sure (Dawson)'s really disappointed," Yoder said. "All the other girls, they get to come back next year and try again. She's got no games left."
Outside of Dawson, the Rockets will return everybody back for next season, giving the Rockets hope they can bounce back and have similar success in the 2014-2015 season as they have in the past two seasons. Yoder didn't seem too optimistic after the loss, however.
"I hope (the loss) is (motivation), but I suspect it won't be," Yoder said. "We had the same talk at the end of last year after (Berlin) Hiland beat us in the regional finals about putting some time in individually over the summer, getting out on the basketball and shooting over and over and over again until you become a really good shooter.
"You got to put some hard work in it, some sacrifice. Put your video game down, put your iPhone away, get out there on the court and shoot."