HOUSTON – Bradford couldn’t contain the Houston girls basketball team’s inside presence on Saturday as the post players carried the Wildcats to a 46-31 victory over the Railroaders.
Jess Monnier, a 6-foot junior, scored 22 points for Houston while Sarah Monnier, a 5-foot 10-inch senior, added 10 points. Bradford knew Houston would rely on the post players, Railroader coach Patrick McKee said, but didn’t do a good job of controlling the paint.
“We weren’t focused at all,” McKee said. “To let a team like that that you know is going to be an inside presence and you let them score 30 of their 46 inside the paint, the first half especially they scored a lot inside the paint.”
Both teams started slow on Saturday with neither squad scoring in the first four minutes of game action. Bradford’s Skipp Miller finally broke the scoring drought, giving the Railroaders a 2-0 lead with a layup and moments later tying the score at 4-4 with a pair of free throws.
Houston recovered from its slow start with Jess Monnier scoring 7 first quarter points and Sarah Monnier contributing 2. Morgan Ely also drained a 3-pointer with just one second remaining in the quarter to give the Wildcats a 12-4 lead, ending the period on an 8-0 run.
Bradford’s struggles came from a combination of defensive struggles on the inside and an inability to get the offense working.
“There’s just some simple things weren’t getting right now,” McKee said of the Bradford offense. “It’s really exposing our offense. We just got to get in the gym. We’ve got to better. Simple as that. It’s the time of the season to get better or move on, and I think these girls are ready to get better.”
Bradford did see some improvements on offense in the second quarter as Emma Canan, Brooke Fair, Bianca Keener and Hannah Fout also tallied points in the period.
Bradford couldn’t make up much ground, however, as the two Monniers combined for 12 more points in the second quarter.
“They’re strong kids,” McKee said. “Hats off to them. They’re strong. They know how to utilize those kids. Do I think that they should score 22 and 10 on us? Probably not. But are they capable if you don’t play them the right way? Yeah. They’re very good players.”
After being limited by foul trouble in the first half, Miller started to find her rhythm in the third quarter. The freshman scored 9 of the first 12 points in the second half, reducing the Railroaders’ deficit to a single point midway through the third quarter.
However, once again Houston started to take control. The Wildcats continued to play well inside and hit some shots from the outside to close the third quarter on an 8-0 run and lead 35-26 entering the fourth quarter.
“I felt like there in the third quarter we did work hard,” McKee said. “We changed up some things defensively and offensively, and we were able to claw back in it. But we got to a point defensively where once again we stopped focusing on what needed to get done. We didn’t close out a few times on an outside shooter, and she hits a few big 3s, and that’s a lot of momentum when a kid hits a few 3s in a row, and that kind of expanded it. And offensively I thought we stopped moving the ball. They went to the one-two-two zone, through us off a little bit. We’ve seen enough zone this year I felt like our girls would kind of adjust, and that’s coming back on the coach for being my fault. We just didn’t adjust with what they did.”
The momentum remained with Houston in the fourth quarter with the Wildcats pulling further ahead for a 15-point victory.
Miller led Bradford with 16 points in Saturday’s game. Also for the Railroaders, Canan scored 7 points, Keener scored 3, Fair scored 2, Chelsea Gill scored 2, and Fout scored 1.
Jess Monnier led Houston with a game-high 22 points. Also for the Wildcats, Sarah Monnier scored 10, Ely scored 7, Hollie Voisard scored 5, and Hayden Riesenbeck scored 2.
Bradford, which fell to 6-8 with the loss, will return to action on Thursday at Franklin Monroe.
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.