LEWISBURG – The Bradford Lady Railroaders traveled to Tri-County North for a Cross County Conference game on Tuesday.
With the season winding down, teams are jockeying for position in the league. So this ended up being a hard-fought game that was not decided until the last minute of play. The Railroaders stalled at the end and could not finish despite having the lead all through the second half until the last minute, losing 48-47.
The Panthers opened an 11-5 lead in the first quarter. Bradford was using a zone defense, and the Railroaders were not rebounding well, giving North some second chance shots – and also giving the Panthers open looks. The Railroaders did not close out well.
Bradford girls basketball coach Patrick McKee later shared that the team had been working on zone defense, but when he saw the results, he called it off at the end of the quarter and went back to a man-to-man defense. This made a huge difference as Bradford quickly made up ground.
Bradford also pressed frequently during the game. The result was not always a turnover, but North would hurry down the court and throw up a wild shot. With Bradford rebounding better and making shots on the other end, the Railroaders took advantage – going on a 9-0 run to close the gap and finally tie the game.
Bradford kept up the offensive pressure and entered the halftime break with a 20-14 lead, holding North to just 3 points in the second quarter. It was their best quarter on the night.
But this came at price because with the defensive pressure, the Railroaders also fouled a lot. Leading scorer Mandi Bates had to go to the bench with three fouls in the second quarter, and she would eventually foul out in the second half.
The second half began with both teams shooting well. But Bradford shot it better and briefly held a double-digit lead. But TCN kept chipping away and stayed on the heels of the Railroaders.
About midway through the last quarter, Bradford had a 7-point lead. But at that time Bates got her fourth foul – limiting her presence. And with about three minutes left North gave Bradford a taste of its own medicine – going into a press itself.
North began to foul. Bradford had shot well at the line in the first half, going 10 for 16, but in the second half the Railroaders were a disappointing 5 of 15. This gave North the ball back at a critical juncture as Bradford muffed free throws in the last minute.
North freshman Aubrey Stupp scored 9 of her 20 points in the last quarter and gave North a 1-point lead in the last 30 seconds.
Bradford could not get anything going against North despite its best efforts, and when the buzzer went off the Railroaders had lost by the narrowest of margins, 48-47.
North’s coach Jessica Cherry was asked for comment afterwards,”
“We had some really hard practices the past few days – so today they really practiced as they played,” Tri-County North coach Jessica Cherry said. “Aubrey Stupp had a good game. As a freshman she has a lot of pressure on her. But you can see how she responded for the team in the second half.”
“I thought our girls played well for three quarters and about five minutes,” Bradford’s McKee said. “We talked about it in the locker room – we simply lost focus on what we needed to do in that last three minutes. We need to understand situations. We were up 5 with three minutes left and they had seven fouls. We are running down the court and throwing up a shot when we just needed to do ball control. Hats off to North, though, they gave a good four quarters of effort.
“She had a phenomenal effort,” McKee said of Bates. “They came out with a diamond and one on her and at halftime she only had 2 points. So at halftime we made some adjustments on what we had to do. We still needed to play team ball, but we needed to get the ball to her more. She responded and scored for us. And she had some nice defensive stops on defense.”
Next up for Bradford is a tough Arcanum team on Thursday.
“Our defense will need to be even better than it was tonight,” McKee said. “We need to be mentally prepared and be ready to respond in the right way for four quarters.”
Bates led Bradford with 16 points. Also for the Railroaders, Olivia Hart scored 9 points, Bianca Keener 7, Brook Fair 5, Ally Booker 4, Chelsea Gill 2 Mercedes Smith 2 and Bailey Wysong 2.