PITSBURG – For the first time all season, Patrick McKee said he saw his team play a complete game on Thursday, which led to a 51-40 win for Bradford at Franklin Monroe.
“I’ll be honest … tonight is the first night all year I feel like we’ve really kind of put things together,” the Bradford girls basketball coach said. “Usually it’s one piece at a time, and tonight we kind of put a few different pieces. I still think we can play a better complete game, but I think we’re starting to get there.”
Bradford led throughout the Cross County Conference game as the Lady Railroaders came out strong in the opening minutes of the contest. Bradford scored 10 of the first 12 points of the game, including the first four, to go up 10-2 early on.
“I was trying to get that spark in the first half,” Franklin Monroe coach Abbey Moore said of her team. “We tried switching things up, and nothing was really getting them going in the first half. I try to build their confidence up as much as I can. That’s what these girls need. Tonight we just didn’t come out with it and got ourselves in too big of a hole.”
Mandi Bates led Bradford with eight first quarter points, including their first six of the night, while Bianca Keener scored four, Kelly Moore scored two and Mackenzie Weldy scored two.
FM got scoring from Allyson Masterson, Tara Goubeaux and Kinsey Goins in the opening period but trailed 16-8.
One area that helped Bradford get off to its fast start was its aggressive defense. While it worked well, McKee said, it still needs some refinement as the Railroaders committed seven fouls in the first quarter.
“That’s something we threw in yesterday,” McKee said of the defense. “After watching some film, I said, ‘Hey, I think we can take advantage here.’ And we did, but like you said we’ve got to definitely tweak that a little bit, get used to it and get a little bit better at it if we’re going to use it in the future.”
Bradford added to its lead in the second quarter as scoring from Bates, Weldy, Olivia Hart and Keener increased the Railroader advantage to 31-16.
“Our first half we were happy,” McKee said. “We were very happy. We had a few mistakes, but what kind of team can say they play a perfect half or game or basketball?”
Franklin Monroe, on the other hand, saw several areas to improve in the first half. Among them was free throw shooting as the Jets didn’t take advantage of all the fouls the Railroaders committed in the first two quarters.
“That hurt us big tonight,” Moore said. “Those missed free throws, you’ve got to take advantage of that, scoring while the clock’s not running and especially when you’re trying to get back into a game and trying to make that big of a comeback.”
Moore also said her team needed to cut down on turnovers.
“Give Bradford all the credit,” she said. “They came out and pressured our guards. But our guards have been doing well handling the pressure against some good competition here these last few games, and tonight we just didn’t have it.”
After trailing by 15 at halftime, Franklin Monroe came out in the second half and played better. The Jets outscored the Railroaders 14-11 in the third quarter with Carrie Baker, Kennedy Morris, Masterson, Danielle McVey and Goubeaux all contributing as the deficit was reduced to 42-30.
Led by Bates and Weldy, Bradford started strong in the fourth quarter and pushed its lead to a game-high 20 points at 50-30.
In the final 3:45 Franklin Monroe finished strong and scored 10 of the final 11 points with scoring from Masterson, Baker and Morris to make the final score 51-40 in favor of Bradford.
“I was proud of the way we finished,” Moore said. “But at the same time we’re competitive, and we want to win ball games. I keep telling them you can’t just play two quarters. You’ve got to play four.”
Bates led Bradford with a game-high 23 points on Thursday. Also for the Lady Railroaders, Weldy scored 15 points, Keener scored six, Hart scored four, Moore scored two, and Chelsea Gill scored one.
“The kids laid it out there tonight,” McKee said. “They did what we asked them to, which is obviously huge. They gave us the effort. We just talked in the locker room about the effort’s there, now we’ve got to make a few minor adjustments defensively and offensively, and I think we can get this thing back on the right track.”
Baker led Franklin Monroe with nine points on the night. Also for the Lady Jets, Goubeaux scored eight points, Masterson scored eight, Morris scored eight, Goins scored five, and McVey scored two.
Bradford improved to 5-9 overall and 4-4 in the CCC, which includes three consecutive league wins. Franklin Monroe fell to 2-13 overall and 2-6 in the CCC.
Bradford will play at Houston on Saturday, and Franklin Monroe will play at Miami East on Monday.
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.