By Drew Terhall
BRADFORD — In a physical, tight game for four quarters, the Lady Railroaders basketball team fell short against Bethel in a 39-50 loss on Feb. 5.
Head coach Josh Siedling said while things didn’t go their way towards the end of the game, the team still fought till the end. No matter what went against them, they moved on to the next play.
“I’m extremely proud of all the girls. They fought hard, even through adversity or whatever it may be. If shots aren’t falling early, we still battle and try to get back into it,” Siedling said. “Ran out of steam a little bit towards the end. But, nothing that we should be ashamed of.”
The Lady Bees led 22-15 at halftime. Bradford had some offensive troubles early in the second quarter. Sophomore Ryleigh Dotson got them to within seven points late in the quarter as she made two three-point shots.
Bethel was determined to not let senior Brooklyn Crickmore jump start the offense. With her size advantage, she was the main target in the paint.
Whenever Crickmore touched the ball, the Lady Bees came swarming to force the ball out of her hands. That left some shooters open, but they couldn’t make enough shots in the first half to take a lead or tie the game.
Even when facing full court pressure, Bradford was able to move the ball down the court and set up their offense. Siedling said the team improved their ball handling skills against pressure after going up against the press of Tri-Village and Mississinawa Valley.
“When you face their constant pressure for two games in a row, you start to realize if you can handle this a few times then we can handle other pressure through the majority of the game. They also work hard on ball handling and all kinds of situational stuff in practice,” Siedling said.
The Lady Railroaders started to make a bit of a run in the third quarter. They were getting close to Bethel after the Lady Bees started to grow their lead.
For awhile, the team’s were exchanging three point makes. Dotson and freshman Lilly Canan combined for nine threes made in the game. Canan had five made and Dotson had four made. Siedling said it took awhile for the shooters to get going. But when they’re on, it’s hard to stop.
“The past couple of games, they’ve proved that they can go out and shoot. Lilly had a game a while back against Lehman where she hit three threes in the first half with 11 points,” Siedling said. “Ryleigh, she’s improved a lot. Especially from last year coming into this year. Her confidence is rolling.”
But then the offense hit a lull in the fourth quarter. Small mistakes started to add up and Bethel took advantage. The Lady Bees were able to get out in transition and stop any kind of Bradford run.
The Lady Railroaders did all they could without their leading scorer in freshman Vivian Harleman. The offense was able to move the ball and get up a lot of quality shots. Siedling said it is tough to not have Harleman, but the team has the next man up mentality.
He also said everyone is capable of providing some offense as everyone practices on their shot. Siedling gives everyone the freedom to take that open shot.
“They’re seeing that five, six or seven of them, whoever they may be, can step in. I give everybody the green light. It’s not that only you’re a shooter or only you’re a shooter. If you’re open, that’s a shot we want,” Siedling said.
Canan led with 15 points and Dotson finished with 12 points.
Siedling said the team has done a great job of learning from their losses and working on the areas where things went wrong.
They will have some time to fix their mistakes from this game as they end the regular season at Dixie on Feb. 8 at 7:15 p.m. The Lady Railroaders are now 4-16 on the season with a 3-7 WOAC record.
Contact Daily Advocate sports editor Drew Terhall at [email protected]