The story of the turnaround of the Greencastle girls' basketball team saw perhaps its most impressive chapter yet on Saturday, as the Lady Tiger Cubs overcame a 16-point third quarter deficit to defeat Class A 13th-ranked Turkey Run, 59-56.
Greencastle coach Glen Hile was ecstatic to hand the Warriors just their fourth loss of the season.
"The big deal of the day was we beat a good team. They were 13-3," Hile said. "We haven't done that in a while and this win may be as sweet as any of them this year. It's very gratifying to come back from 16 down and just have enough perseverance."
Both teams came out scorching in the first quarter, but the Lady Tiger Cubs (10-8, 3-1 WCC) flinched first, committing several late turnovers to trail 22-19 after the first quarter.
In the second, the turnover trouble continued. Even more costly, the turnovers were in the backcourt, so the Warriors (13-4, 7-0 WRC) turned them into easy points.
"We didn't really get a chance to see these guys, so it took a while for us to figure out what they were doing defensively," Hile said. "They really had their zone way up high and we were turning it over in the backcourt."
After an Olivia Miller bucket put the Tiger Cubs up one at 25-24, Turkey Run closed the half on a 13-0 run.
The Warriors led 37-25 at the break. They had outscored the Cubs 15-6 in the second quarter.
In the first half, Turkey Run's Meghan Doss and Chelsea Francis had done much of the damage, scoring 11 points each. Hile focused his second half plan on these two.
"On defense we went to a triangle-and-two in the second half and just dogged Doss and (Chelsea) Francis," Hile said. "But I don't know if that was it or not. Our post battled. They really hurt us in the post early. We battled in the second half."
Likewise, Hile let his offense know they just needed to do a better job of taking care of the ball and running the plays.
"We went in at halftime and said, 'We have to start getting the ball down to the baseline where we can either get it the post or we can get a shot in the high post area with the guards.' Once we started doing that and attacking them offensively that way, we started getting some shots," Hile said.
In the third, the Cubs did cut down on the turnovers, committing just two, but they failed to capitalize on some early Turkey Run turnovers. The lead grew to 16.
Hile acknowledged that the game plan was nice, but it really came down to his players making plays.
"We started getting shots to fall," Hile said. I told the girls, 'You're the experienced ball club here. They haven't been in a tight game for about five games. We've been in a bunch. Let's cut the lead down to six after the third.' That's where it was. Then I said, 'Let's see if we can get them in the fourth quarter.'"
The fourth was simply about crawling back into it for the Cubs. Spencer's buckets were sprinkled in with contributions from Kelsey Hennette and members of the Tiger Cub bench. Mallory Miller scored five in a row to draw the Cubs to within two.
Spencer then tied the game on a layup off a steal with 3:20 remaining.
Becky Grivas finally gave the Cubs their first lead since the early second quarter with 2:40 remaining.
"We got great bench help again today. They came in and knocked down some shots today," Hile said.
Miller's and Grivas' combined 10 points in the fourth quarter were among the biggest shots in the game.
Once his team was back in the game, Hile felt they had the advantage.
"I knew at the end -- we've just been there too much this year," he said. "That experience at the end helped us."
The foul situation had been lopsided for much of the half, with the Warriors getting into the bonus when they had been whistled for just one foul.
Down the stretch, though, it worked in the Lady Tiger Cubs' advantage. With 25 seconds remaining, GHS had the ball and Turkey Run needed to foul to get the ball back.
However, they had to foul five times before it actually sent Greencastle to the line.
In the ensuing five inbound passes, Greencastle was able to run the clock down to 6.2 seconds.
When Cassie Alspaugh finally went to the line, she hit both shots to put the Cubs up 59-56.
In the Warriors' final attempt, a Doss three-pointer was off the mark at the buzzer. After torching the Cubs for a combined 22 points on 9-of-9 shooting in the first half, Doss and Chelsea Francis went 3-of-8 for just six points after the break.
Doss and Adrianne Francis led Turkey Run with 16 points each.
Spencer led all scorers with 18 points. Fisher was also in double figures with 10.
While none of them were among the scoring leaders, Hile gave much of the credit to his frontcourt for the comeback.
"The post players were strong inside in that second half, and that was the difference. It's very gratifying," Hile said.
Coming off of last year's 1-20 season, the Lady Tiger Cubs continue to surprise and impress a lot of people, including Hile, with their performance.
"We just continue to mature. We're getting more and more confident in what we do," Hile said. "We had a slip on Tuesday night at Eminence, but if you look at us since we lost to Cloverdale, we're 7-2. We were 1-20 last year and this club's 10-8.
GHS shares the West Central Conference lead at 3-1 and its two remaining regular season games are home conference games.
"We control our own destiny for conference. We have North Putnam and Monrovia at our own place. We're pretty tough here. To be able to see this all the way through would be great for these kids," Hile concluded.
The Lady Tiger Cubs host county rival North Putnam at 6 p.m. Friday in a battle for each to keep pace with the WCC lead.
Turkey Run 22 15 8 11 -- 56
Greencastle 19 6 14 20 -- 59
Turkey Run (13-4, 7-0 WRC) -- A. Francs 8-10 0-1 16, Doss 6-10 3-6 16, C. Francis 6-7 0-0 13, Patton 2-2 0-0 4, Hunt 1-7 2-2 4, Newnum 1-6 0-0 3, Marshall 0-3 0-0 0. Totals: 24-45 FG, 5-9 FT, 56 points.
Greencastle (10-8, 3-1 WCC) -- Spencer 8-13 0-0 18, Fisher 4-10 0-0 10, M. Miller 4-5 0-0 9, Grivas 3-4 2-3 8, Hennette 2-4 0-0 6, O. Miller 3-7 0-0 6, Alspaugh 0-0 2-2 2, Samuels 0-1 0-0 0, Nobles 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 25-45 FG, 4-5 FT, 59 points.
3-pt. FG--TR 3-10 (C. Francis 1-1, Doss 1-4, Newnum 1-4), GHS 5-8 (Spencer 2-3, Fisher 2-3 M. Miller 1-2). Turnovers--TR 10, GHS 12. Total fouls--TR 11, GHS 11. Fouled out--None.
JV results -- Turkey Run 37, Greencastle 29
Next game -- Greencastle hosts North Putnam at 6 p.m. Friday.