BRADFORD – Both Arcanum and Bradford came out flat Tuesday night, but it was the Lady Trojans who recovered better to secure a 39-29 Cross County Conference win.
“We pushed through,” Arcanum girls basketball coach Matt Grote said. “We kept getting up, got a lot of good looks. In the second half I’m glad we started to finish because that was a tough one to the end.”
Neither team could get much going early on with Arcanum’s Rebecca Deao scoring the only points in the first four minutes of the game.
“We weren’t talking like we need to on defense, and we really gain energy from our defense,” Grote said. “When we play and we talk and we’re loud, it carries over on the offensive end. We get transition baskets. It just helps everywhere. I don’t know why we were a little bit dead, but it was pretty obvious we were.”
Bradford tied the game at 2-2 with 3:11 left on the clock. Then Abby Ross hit a 3-pointer for Arcanum and Mackenzie Weldy made a pair of free throws for Bradford to make it 5-4 through one quarter of play.
“We’ve been a slump shooting-wise as far as percentage,” Bradford coach Patrick McKee said. “If you could shoot a negative percent, we could probably accomplish that in the last couple games. But I think it’s both teams kind of came out with a good defensive strategy.”
The pace started to pick up in the second quarter with Arcanum out-scoring Bradford 13-8 in the period. Stevie Johnting scored the Trojans’ first five points of the quarter to get them going. Then McKenzie Sharritts and Alexis Abner both drained 3-pointers and Madison O’Daniel made a basket.
Bates, Weldy and Ally Booker led Bradford in the second quarter as the Railroaders went into the halftime break down six points.
“We left two wide-open 3-pointers, and that was the difference,” McKee said. “We were down six at half. If you take away those two wide-open 3-pointers we allow, it’s a tie ballgame at halftime.”
Arcanum continued to pull away in the third quarter with Deao, Johnting, Abner and O’Daniel all contributing to the team’s 14 third quarter points. Weldy and Bates scored all eight of Bradford’s third quarter points.
With Bates and Weldy continuing to lead the Bradford offense, the Railroaders cut into the Trojan lead in the fourth quarter. However, with points from O’Daniel, Deao and Sharritts, Arcanum was able to hold off Bradford for the 39-29 win.
“I just think that if you hold a team like that to 33 percent, I believe they shot, and 39 points, I think you’ve got to pull out that win,” McKee said. “That’s a team that’s not going to shoot that low every night. Those are wins we’ve got to get.”
Arcanum had a balanced scoring attack with Deao and Johnting leading the Trojans with nine points each. Also for Arcanum, O’Daniel scored seven points, Abner scored six, Sharritts scored five, and Ross scored three.
Grote was happy with his team’s balanced scoring and another strong defensive effort.
“Our defensive effort on the season has been great,” Grote said. “We’re playing really well.”
Bates led Bradford with a game-high 16 points while Weldy scored 11 points and Booker added two.
Even though he was disappointed that his team only shot 26 percent, McKee saw some positives in Tuesday’s game.
“We’re getting to the point where we believe in ourselves that we can compete with the Arcanums, and we’ve got another great chance Thursday to compete with another good team in Covington,” he said. “They’re a heck of a team. They’ve got all the girls back from last year, a pretty successful team. They’ve got a lot of great athletes. Not taking anything away from that team but I think tonight we proved a lot to ourselves.”
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.