MONROVIA -- Trying to garner some momentum heading into the closing stretch of the season, the South Putnam girls' basketball team went to Monrovia after getting their first win in nearly two months over Eminence on Monday. After a rough and tumble first half, an early third quarter surge saw Monrovia grab a lead it would not relinquish in a 51-44 win over the Eagles.
Baskets were hard to come by in the opening period with both sides unable to settle into any rhythm. Monrovia pressured Eagle ball handlers in the half court, cutting off passing lanes and creating several turnovers. Conversely, South Putnam was able to force Monrovia into shooting jumpers, which, unlike the week prior at North Putnam, the Bulldogs were unable to hit with any regularity, leading to a 8-6 Bulldog lead at the end of one.
In the second, the Eagles began to get a grip on the Monrovia defense and pounded the ball inside, with Brooke Boetjer scoring eight of her game high 17 points in the quarter. Her third basket of the quarter gave the Eagles a 16-10 lead with 5:38 left in the second, before Monrovia began to ratchet up the defensive intensity once again, getting several lay ups off of turnovers. The back and forth action was capped by a Morgan Knieper three pointer with seventeen seconds left, allowing the Bulldogs to go into half time with a 21-20 lead.
Coming out of the break was where the game got away from the Eagles, according to head coach Debbie Steffy.
"We came out nervous in the second half," Steffy said. "We got two good looks early, but didn't convert them, and then Monrovia went on their eight point run. They came out ready and we didn't."
As the Bulldogs separated themselves from the Eagles, the physical play was forced down by a slightly faster whistle from the officials, as both teams approached the fourth quarter with fouls mounting up and the specter of free throws playing a major part in the final quarter, as 18 had been attempted in the third, and both teams were in the bonus.
Staring at a 37-30 deficit and multiple players in foul trouble, Coach Steffy had to be creative with her team.
"Once (Emily) Dabkowski got her fourth personal foul, we had to sub her in and out constantly, along with several other players. We had to change to a man to man look with Emily as a safety. It wasn't normal for the players and we had to constantly make adjustments," Steffy pointed out.
As the quarter dragged on, the Eagles had opportunities to close the gap on the Bulldogs, and at one point were within two points at 41-39, but could not drag Monrovia in completely, trading free throws for the majority of the quarter in falling 51-44.
"We played hard for three quarters, but when they got that nine point lead we were never able to overcome it. We had the intensity level to compete and had the chance to tie it, but we had let downs at very inopportune times. We're disappointed in that, because we knew there were times that we could have gotten back into the game."
The schedule does no favors to the Eagles as they are hosting the #12 ranked Tri-West Bruins on Tuesday.
"Tri-West is a good team. The play up-tempo and play a variety of zones, which they switch around frequently. We've got to be able to recognize what they are in quickly and adjust to it. They don't stick in one zone for very long, so recognition is going to be a big key for us Tuesday."
South Putnam 6 14 10 14 - 44
Monrovia 8 13 16 14 -- 51
South Putnam -- Minor 1, 1-5, 3, Dabkowski 1, 2-6, 4, Jes. Thompson 2, 0-2, 4, Jen Thompson 2, 1-3, 5, Varvel 1, 3-5, 5, Searles 3, 0-0, 6, Boetjer 6, 5-6, 17
Monrovia -- Thom 1, 0-0, 2, Mo. Knieper 3, 3-4, 11, Ma. Knieper 4, 4-9, 13, Hunter 5, 2-6, 10, Vondersaar 0, 8-10, 8, Brackett 1, 0-0, 2, Kaiser 1, 1-2, 3Three Pointers: Mo. Knieper (2), Ma. Knieper
Net Game: South Putnam (3-13, 0-4 WCC) hosts Tri-West on Tuesday.