(Banner Graphic/TRENT SCOTT)
Greencastle's girls' basketball team used a big run to close the first half with a 12-point lead, only to watch their offense disappear as they fell at Cascade 58-48.
Even shorn of its leading scorer, sophomore Jessica Lenihan, due to injury, Greencastle looked comfortable against a squad that only the current senior class had defeated.
The first half breezed by as the Tiger Cubs and Cadets traded off baskets through the first 11 minutes of the game and, at the five-minute mark of the second quarter, Greencastle held an 18-16 lead.
From there, the visitors went on a 16-6 run to close the quarter by utilizing several second-chance opportunities and put-backs to send the squad into halftime leading 34-22.
Leading by as much as 13 in the third quarter, Greencastle looked to be in a comfortable position to pick up win No. 10 on the year.
Instead, Cascade rallied with three three-point baskets to take the 39-26 lead down to 39-35.
The Tiger Cubs made a pair of late baskets to drive the lead back up to seven and went into the fourth quarter leading 43-38.
As bad as the third quarter had been, the final period offered an even less appealing scene.
Greencastle did not score in the quarter until there was only 1:13 left in the game and only managed five points in the fourth quarter.
In contrast, Cascade lived on the free throw line, knocking down 13 of their 22 final-period points from the charity stripe.
By the time the Tiger Cubs finally got on the board, the Cadets were up double-digits and pulled away to hand Greencastle its eighth loss of the season.
The loss also opened up the lead in the West Central Conference regular season title race as it left only Monrovia, who beat South Putnam Friday night 48-28, the sole unbeaten in WCC play.
A win over the Bulldogs, however, could potentially split the WCC title three ways between Greencastle, Monrovia and Cascade.
That was of little concern to Greencastle head coach Bradley Key afterwards, especially after a good first half was overshadowed by the second half performance.
"I think we scored a lot of our points in the first half because of good ball movement," Key said. "We handled their defenses and moved the ball really well in the first half.
"We got each other great shots, almost practice shots. We got tired in the second half and became thinner on the bench.
"We had a problem handling the pressure in the second half," Key added. "It was a new line-up to begin with Lenihan and later (sophomore) Taylor Stoltey out. But we have to handle pressure no matter who is in. We had a 12 point lead, so we need to do a better job of handling the pressure."
Key said that the loss covered up some bright spots from the game.
"I thought (senior) Rayleigh Amis played outstanding and I could not be more proud of her effort," Key said. "(Senior) Jessi Covert had a good effort tonight as well.
"We had a good first half tonight and we had a good second half against Speedway, but we need to put four quarters together."
With a quick turnaround to a game against Turkey Run Saturday afternoon and a squad hit by injuries, Key said that the depth of the team should carry them through in the end.
"The good news is that, right now, we think this squad is the best 1-to-8 we've had since I've been here," Key said. "We may not have any 20-point a night players, but we have a roster of solid players.
"Everyone practices and should be ready for the game tomorrow night against Turkey Run. We've said we're trying to get better for February and hopefully we learned a few lessons here."
The game tips at 12:00 p.m.
Greencastle 12 22 9 5 -- 48
Cascade 14 8 16 20 -- 58
Stats (Greencastle Only)
Greencastle 18-45 FG, 5-11 3-FG, 7-12 FT
Amis 17, Covert 10, Earl 9, Basile 8, Taylor 4
Cascade -- Stein 18, Sallee 16, Gaddis 15, Smith 6, Smallwood 3
Greencastle 36 (6 offense)
Next Game: Greencastle travels to Turkey Run Saturday afternoon.