By Ron Holt
Inconsistency on offense, turnovers and foul problems – along with a talented opponent – proved to be the downfall for Bixby’s Lady Spartans last Friday night in Whitey Ford Field House.
Seventh-ranked Booker T. Washington (10-1) used its pressure attack on both ends to take control of the game at the end of the first half and turned back repeated comeback attempts by second-ranked Bixby (8-6) in capturing a 54-47 Frontier Valley Conference victory.
“I thought we didn’t handle their pressure well, which is surprising,” said Bixby’s head coach Tina Thomas. “We kind of played rattled and didn’t have much flow offensively with anything we did. I thought we played well enough defensively to win … we just couldn’t get any rhythm or flow on offense.”
A three-pointer by Bixby senior guard Gentry Baldwin broke an 8-8 first quarter tie before senior Alyssa Nielsen sank a turnaround jumper with 32 seconds left to give BHS a 13-10 first quarter lead. Bixby was hampered in the second quarter when senior guard Gracy Wernli was called for her third foul with 5:28 left in the stanza.
A layup by Baldwin following a Lady Hornet turnover and a rebound put-back by sophomore Ama Musick gave Bixby a 19-16 second quarter lead with 2:21 remaining. After a three-pointer by Alexis Leyva, Booker T. Washington took its first lead at 21-19 but a jumper by Nielsen tied the game at 21-all with 1:10 left.
Leyva sank another three-point field goal with 35 seconds left to cap off an 8-2 Lady Hornet run which gave them a 24-21 lead at intermission.
Bixby battled back but couldn’t regain the lead. The Lady Hornets led 32-25 with 3:14 left before Wernli canned a three-pointer and Brynn Daniel sank a jumper with 39 seconds showing to narrow the deficit to 32-30 entering the fourth quarter.
An early three-point bucket by Wernli trimmed the Lady Hornets lead to 34-33 before Washington scored five consecutive points for a 39-33 lead with 6:33 left. A jumper by Nielsen and a rebound put-back by Kate Wernli narrowed the deficit to 39-37 with 4:53 left.
The Lady Hornets then went on a 10-1 run for a 49-38 lead with less than three minutes left and held off the Lady Spartans at the free throw line down the stretch to capture the win.
Nielsen led the Lady Spartans in scoring with 16 points while G. Wernli finished with 12. Daniel contributed eight points. Marrayla Johnson paced Booker T. Washington with 18 points while Kyllin Johnson scored 13 and Leyva added 10.
“Their pressure rattled us a little bit tonight which is atypical for us, it doesn’t happen a lot,” said Daniel, whose previous scoring high was 10 points. “We were kind of off our game when it came to the pressure. We weren’t running our press break and had a lot of turnovers … we didn’t match their energy.
“We know we shouldn’t have lost that game … it just makes our road much more difficult, but we’ll handle the challenge. This was my most points in a close game. It gives me more confidence … when you make shots you want to shoot more. It helps when I get some points to make us more balanced,” she said.
NEXT GAME – Bixby, which is on a two-game losing streak, remains home Tuesday, Jan. 17, when the Lady Spartans host Union (2-9) starting at 6:30 p.m. at Whitey Ford Field House.
Bixby and Union had four competitive battles last season, including in the Class 6A state semifinals where Bixby pulled out a 35-34 win.
Union is led this season by first-year head coach Chaun Davis. The Lady Spartans will be idle the remainder of the week.
HONORED – Following last Friday’s home game, Bixby’s coach Thomas was honored for recently recording her 100th coaching victory with the Lady Spartans and 200th coaching victory during her career.
BTW 54, BIXBY 47
Bixby Scoring – Alyssa Nielsen 16, Gracy Wernli 12, Brynn Daniel 8, Gentry Baldwin 5, Ama Musick 4, Kate Wernli 2.