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Early turnovers helped the Grant County Lady Braves, but late turnovers helped Walton-Verona come away with a 44-33 win on Dec. 11.
“We played hard, competed and had a chance to win,” coach Darrell Guffey said. “Turnovers and defensive rebounding have been the key for us all year. We need to stick our nose in there and box out. We came out aggressive and that was good. We got much better and that’s the important thing.”
Grant County believed that defense would lead them to a win. They forced early turnovers as Tyanna Workman stole the ball several times and then scored.
Dawn Plunkett grabbed a loose ball and attacked the basket, drawing a foul and hitting a free throw. Amber Cope also showed defensive heart, forcing a turnover and hitting a free throw after getting fouled.
Walton-Verona scored, but Workman kept up the defensive intensity, coming up with another turnover and scoring to put Grant County ahead 7-2. Walton-Verona scored a quick five points to tie the game and then took the lead before Candace Gorby scored before the quarter ended, tying the game at 9-9.
Workman stole the ball to start the second quarter and took the ball to the basket, putting Grant County ahead 11-9. An errant Walton-Verona pass gave Grant County the ball, but the Lady Braves couldn’t take advantage of the turnover as they turned the ball back over.
Shayna Lockard added to Grant County’s lead with a basket and Workman came up with another steal and scored to put the Lady Braves ahead 15-9.
Grant County kept gambling for steals in the passing lanes, but a Walton-Verona three pointer cut the lead to three points. A Lady Braves turnover and Walton-Verona basket put them down by one point before Erica Stith hit a free throw.
Walton-Verona took the lead for the first time after a couple free throws and scored from the field again to take a 19-16 lead heading into the half.
Walton-Verona scored quickly to start the third quarter, extending their lead to 21-16. The teams each turned the ball over before Cope hit a three pointer. But Walton-Verona had an answer, scoring and drawing a foul for a three-point play.
Walton-Verona started to out rebound Grant County on the offensive glass, getting second chances to score and going up 28-19 before Morgan McClure hit a free throw to stop Walton-Verona’s run. Grant County ended the third quarter with a Plunkett free throw to go into the final quarter down 30-21.
The teams each came out trying to take control of the game, trading baskets as Walton-Verona extended their lead to 39-29. Turnovers doomed the Lady Braves comeback attempt as Walton-Verona hit free throws to seal the win.
“We’re so inexperienced,” Guffey said. “I thought we did a lot of good things though. It was a very physical game and anytime the game is physical, it’s to the advantage of the bigger, stronger team and that was them. Our whole team played well enough to win, but we couldn’t make shots.”
“I think we did really good,” Workman said. “Even though we didn’t win, we executed very well. We came out with a good attitude. We need to improve on making shots and talking while we’re on the floor. It was physical up and down the floor.”
“I thought we did really well, especially in the first half,” Cope said. “We came out forcing turnovers. We were really ready to play and get after it. We know how good we can play and we should try our hardest to play like that every game. It might have been a different game if we had made free throws because we had plenty of opportunities to make points. We are expecting to beat them when we play them at home. That’s our goal now.”
Workman scored 11 points and had nine rebounds, five steals and three blocks. Lockard scored nine points, Plunkett had five points, Cope had four points, Gorby scored two points and McClure and Stith each scored one point.