By LISA MEYER TRIGG
With a 60-41 win, the Greencastle Varsity Girls opened their 2007-08 basketball season Saturday afternoon by defeating Brown County.
"We have progressed so much," said head coach Glen Hile following the win. "The girls worked very hard to get better."
Last year's season was disappointing for the team, which had only one win to its credit. But even with the major improvements that showed Saturday in McAnally Center, Hile said the team still has a long way to go.
"We're not as good as I think we can be," he said. "But I'm thrilled to have the depth we do."
Indeed, the substitutes off the bench fit smoothly into the offense, and maintained the defensive strength that gave the Tiger Cubs the edge in the game.
Greencastle held a one-point lead at the end of the first quarter, 8-7. The second quarter stayed close with Brown County taking a one-point lead to the locker room at 24-23.
But the Tiger Cubs burst into the third quarter by putting up 19 points while holding the Eagles to six. Greencastle carried that intensity into the final quarter by outscoring Brown County 18-11.
"The turning point was when we put the full court pressure on them," Hile said.
Brown County was not playing up to its potential, due to injuries with two of its starters, Jessica Harding and Molly Fox. But varsity coach Mike Harmon said he used Saturday's game to get more playing time for his younger players.
"We tried to get the kids to keep playing hard without those girls," Harmon said.
Improvement for his team will come with better rebounding and post defense. And three starters got into foul trouble, with leading scorer Amanda Ryan (12 points) fouling out in the fourth quarter.
Free throws and turnovers were big concerns for Greencastle. The team took 20 shots from the line, but hit only 7. Brown County had 22 free throw attempts, and made 11 of them.
Hile said his team has been working hard on free throw shooting, and they know those points can win or lose the game.
He had high compliments for seniors Grace Fisher, Kelsey Hennette and Olivia Miller, as well as junior Cassie Alspaugh. They are seeing their third year of varsity action, and it shows in how well they work together.
Fisher came up with 5 assists and 5 points, one of those being a three-pointer.
Miller scored 8 points, and Hennette scored 14 points to lead the Cubs. Alspaugh contributed five points, including a three-pointer, along with two assists.
Junior Hannah Spencer came off the bench to give the Tiger Cubs 10 points, and was 4-of-4 from the free-throw line.
Adding to the Tiger Cub score was freshman Chelsea Samuels with four, junior Becky Grivas with six, Kayla Nobles with six (including a three-pointer and a free throw), and Mallory Miller with two points.
"I'm tickled to death," Hile said of the win. "This is so big for the girls. They determined last spring to be better this year. We practiced all summer."
Next on the schedule is Southmont, and Hile said he is excited about traveling there for the game at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Points by quarters
Greencastle -- 8-13-19-18 -- 60
Brown County -- 7-14-6-11 -- 41
* * *
In junior varsity action, Greencastle took the victory with a 21-17 final score.
Top scorer for the Tiger Cubs was Hannah Deer with 7 points, followed by Kayla Noble with 6 points, and Tennille burgeson and Kelsey Wainman with four each. Greencastle hit nine field goals and three of their nine free throw attempts.
For Brown County, top scorer was Margaret Seitz with 9 points, followed by Shelby Hundley with 6 and Shelby Smoot with 2. The Eagles hit six field goals and five of their 13 free throw attempts.
Score by quarters
Greencastle -- 4-11-17-21
Brown County -- 3-6-13-17