WEST ALEXANDRIA – To say both Bradford and Twin Valley South were slow to start in the first half on Thursday was an understatement.
Both teams had to shake off the Christmas break doldrums. It wasn’t until after halftime that the two teams seemed to wake up and begin to play real basketball.
And what a second half it was with several lead changes, and the game finally came down to the last minute when Bradford was able to edge out South to notch a league win, 43-39.
At halftime the game was tied at 11-all. The two teams barely managed to get into double figures. They seemed flat, and there were plenty of missed passes and poor shots between them. Just sloppy play overall.
“We knew that they were going to pressure us,” Bradford girls basketball coach Patrick McKee said. “We did some silly things with the basketball that we talked about not doing. We missed four layups in first three minutes. But we were playing good enough defense to keep us in the game at this time.
“We had worked on this before the game – we knew what their strengths are, which is their defensive pressure. We just need to execute to take that away. Defense was OK, but on offense we just needed to take better care of the ball. A big plus for us was when we got to the free throw line we made our shots (16 points total).”
Freshman Skipp Miller tied the score just before halftime. At one point in the third quarter she had scored 17 of Bradford’s 19 points, and she would end up leading all scorers for the night with 25 points.
But late in the third quarter Miller got her third foul and had to sit. The remainder of the game she would not score another basket from the floor but was able to make eight foul shots in the second half to continue to help the Railroader cause.
“She works extremely hard for us, and I think everyone saw that tonight,” McKee said. “She had a lot of steals and a lot of rebounds. She is averaging a double-double every night as a freshman. She is getting better at attacking the rim. We are working on her jump shot, and she made one tonight.”
Bradford needed some help scoring in the last quarter. South was pressing and trapping. Coach McKee had to call a timeout early in the fourth quarter to get the team settled down. After that the Railroaders went to work.
Previously scoreless Chelsea Gill landed a trey. South briefly got the lead, but Bianca Keener, who also had not scored in the first three quarters, scored a big basket too to put Bradford back on top with about 3:39 left in the game.
“Chelsea Gill had a good night for us defensively,” McKee said. “She was assigned Mylan Crews, which was their top scorer and held her to just 8. She has also been a good leader for this team.
“Bianca Keener was sluggish in the first half. We woke her up at halftime and told her that she was too strong to play this soft. I had to pull her out of the game a second time, but then she woke up and started to score for us.”
In the last 30 seconds it was a 1-point game. But Hannah Fout came up with a TVS turnover and in the ensuing scramble Miller was fouled and sunk both of her free throws. Gill was fouled and scored the final point of the night to put the game out of reach with five ticks left on the clock.
It is the second half of the season where teams are fighting to see if they are going to be in the top half or the bottom half of the league. So this was an important conference win for Bradford. Next up the Railroaders face St. Henry, a physical team from the Midwest Athletic Conference.
Scoring for Bradford: Skipp Miller 25, B Keener 6, Chelsea Gill 4, Emma Canan 4, Hannah Fout 2, Cassi Mead 2 | Bradford record 5-6, CCC 3-4
Scoring for TVS: McKenzie Neal 10, Evelyn Woodgeard 9, Mylan Crews 9, Kelsie Shafer 8, Alexis Bennett 2, Madison Johnson 2 | TVS record 5-7, CCC 2-4