By the middle of the third quarter, the Big Spring women’s basketball sideline couldn’t be any more excited and Steer Gym couldn’t be any louder.
Merkel was ahead the whole game until a Valerie Ross steal in between two Mackenzie Stone 3-pointers gave Big Spring its first lead of the night against Merkel at 35-34.
Things didn’t stay that way for the Lady Steers, though.
Tuesday’s game came down to the last shot and Big Spring had a chance to steal a win. With the game tied at 46-all, LaShaunte Anderson missed a 3-pointer, and after a Diamond Mayes rebound, Stone missed a basket. On a fast break, Merkel’s Cali Booth hit a layup with about five seconds left, giving Big Spring its first loss of the season.
“We made a mistake,” BSHS head coach Mike Warren said. “Defensively, we didn’t have a safety valve back. So we had a breakdown on defense and once you do that at the varsity level, they’re going to score. But if we score, we wouldn’t have had to do that, so it goes hand in hand.”
It’s these types of games the Lady Steers will learn from, their coach noted. Warren said he was pleased with Tuesday night’s defensive performance, considering the Lady Steers were mainly running a zone and not pressing as much as they usually do.
It looked like the Lady Steers couldn’t quite keep up with Merkel in the beginning of the game. The Badgers capitalized of early turnovers and fouls for the 25-16 lead at the end of the first quarter.
But Stone started to find her range and Cerbi Ritchey was big defensively in the post.
Warren said his players had to adjust to Merkel’s defense, and having Ritchey in the post helped them score when Merkel was trying to take away one dimension of the offense.
“They were in a zone and it just took us a while to figure out what offense we needed to be in,” he said. “They tried to spread out and come get us and they did, which is a mistake. Cerbi was open inside, so we tried to go inside out. That helped us. Her scoring a few points inside kind of helped and then we started hitting some shots.”