GEORGETOWN — When Western Brown and Georgetown square off, regardless of sport, it’s always a must-see event. The contest last week between the Lady G-Men and the Lady Broncos was no exception.
Western Brown entered the game coming off a one-point victory over the Bethel-Tate Lady Tigers. Georgetown entered the contest coming off a 14-point loss on the road to Goshen.
Neither team’s offense was effective. The Lady G-Men shot just 21 percent from the field. The Lady Broncos didn’t shoot much better, but they made just enough shots to steal a 30-27 victory on the road.
The Lady Broncos dominated the first quarter. After Georgetown tied the game at two on a basket by Rachel Gibbons, the Lady Broncos went on a 7-0 run to close out the quarter and take a 9-2 lead. Mackenzie Brooks had six of Western Brown’s nine points while Sugaree Shaffer chipped in three.
In the second quarter, Georgetown out-scored Western Brown 7-5 thanks to three points from Kennedy Underwood and a pair of free-throws by Lexi Cahall. Neither team scored for over four minutes in the second quarter, but the Lady Broncos took a 14-9 lead into halftime. Georgetown head coach Bernie Cropper said the Lady Broncos defense caused his team problems throughout the first half.
“They’re pretty long and athletic,” Cropper said. “Brooks is a force. We turned it over, let’s be honest about it. We were impatient and forced things. I don’t know how many shots we took in that first quarter since we turned the ball over so much.”
The third quarter saw Georgetown’s Bayley Johnson get on the board for the first time. She hit a pair of late baskets, pulling her team back within six points after Western Brown started the quarter on a 7-0 run to push their lead to 12. The Lady G-Men trailed 21-15 at the end of the third.
Georgetown’s offense opened up in the fourth. Kasi Siegla hit a three-point shot and Johnson scored four more points, helping the Lady G-Men cut the Western Brown lead to 25-23 with just over three minutes left in the game. Shaffer scored another basket for the Lady Broncos, putting them up four with 2:18 remaining. Cropper said it was the team’s defense that allowed the offense to get back in the game.
“We scored off our defense,” Cropper said. “Our pressure hurt them some and we made a nice comeback. We didn’t get any easy ones in the first part of the game, but we got some because of our defensive pressure. We got back into it with our defense and hustle.”
Western Brown led by six points after Hannah Sininger drove to the hoop with less than a minute remaining. After Johnson hit a pair of foul-shots to cut the lead to two, Sininger went to the line and missed the front-end of a one-and-one. That opened the door for sophomore Caylee Graham, who converted a lay-up with 5.3 seconds left to pull Georgetown within two points.
Lexi Ring hit her first free-throw attempt, but missed the second. Underwood grabbed the rebound and launched a three-point attempt that hit off the back of the rim as time expired, sealing the Lady Broncos’ victory. Overstake said even though the two squads faced each other less than a month ago, it was still a different Georgetown team than the one the Lady Broncos encountered earlier this season, and that the Lady Broncos’ interior game was going to have to step up.
“We need to execute the ball inside,” Overstake said. “We had them out-sized, we just need to get the ball in there and make some more shots. We knew coming into this game that the way they played against Eastern that we weren’t going to see the same team we saw in the Holiday Tournament.”
Shaffer led all scorers with 14 points. Brooks chipped in nine for the Lady Broncos. Johnson’s eight points led the Lady G-Men. Western Brown head coach Dennis Overstake said Shaffer may have flown a bit under the radar this season given her role on the team.
“[She] plays hard,” Overstake said. “She’s one who doesn’t get all the limelight because she’s playing on the backside all the time. She’s the one getting the backside rebounds and hitting the gaps inside when they try to help out on the guards.”
Cropper also noted it can be difficult at times to rally teams and make some changes in how they play the game, but he also noted that his Lady G-Men squad are constantly working hard.
“It’s not easy,” Cropper said. “You’re talking about teenage kids. They’re working hard. I have to give them credit, they work hard, they play hard and they never give up.”
The grind-it-out style of play is what the Lady Broncos expected, according to Overstake.
“That’s what we talked about,” Overstake said. “This is the type of game they want. They want these games in the 30-point range. We almost didn’t make it there but…We told the girls that we need our score to be up in the 40s because Georgetown’s comfortable with a 3o-35 point ballgame. Their defense is going to dictate that type of game.”
Western Brown hits the hardwood for a conference rematch against the Goshen Lady Warriors, who beat the Lady Broncos in Western Brown’s opening game of the season. Georgetown faces off against the Bethel-Tate Lady Tigers, who could have star Julia Jenike back in time for the contest. Both games are scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 21.