Girls Basketball

Mounties bench saves OT win


NEW MARKET ­— It was anything but business as usual for Southmont’s girls basketball team in a 55-50 overtime win over North Vermillion.

Sure, there were critical buckets, steals free throws and rebounds late in the game and down the stretch as the Mounties even their season record at 2-2, while handing the Falcons their first loss and drop them to 1-1.

But you need to get the program out, because it was a whole new list of heroes that made this win happen.

Three South starters fouled out in a span of 89 seconds at the midpoint of the fourth quarter. Recipe for disaster maybe.

Not this time, as three freshmen came off the bench to get the job done. Those three, along with another freshman who started but had her coming out game, saw to it that their Mounties never trailed after the three starters fouled out.

“We had some freshmen really get thrown into the fire,” noted South coach Dan Burkman. “Some really inexperienced players really stepped up. This turned into a really nice win with a good team effort.”

Emily Link was one of those youngsters, as she hit a big OT free throw and had a big steal in the extra four minutes, as she finished with four steals and had a pair of assists.

Claire Kessler came into the game for the first time in the overtime, and grabbed a huge defensive rebound and made a big free throw in the last minute.

Makinzie Wood also saw the floor for the first time in the OT, and all she did was drop two free throws with :05 left to ice the win.

“Link got some real experience under pressure,” Burkman said, noting that Link became the ball handler and point guard when DeLorean Mason fouled out with 2:59 left.

Those three freshmen were the closers in the win, but it was a fourth freshman who carried a big share of the load getting to that point.

Layla Gomez, playing in her third game of the season, stuffed the stat sheets with a monster night, leading all scorers with 20 points, and led all rebounders with 16. She had three blocked shots, two steals and an assist. Four of her buckets and one free throw came in the fourth quarter and overtime, as South made the halftime adjustment to run the offense through her.

“We had such an advantage and mismatch with her in the middle,” Burkman said. “I told the offense to get her the ball, and they did, and that opened up everything else.”

The overtime excitement takes the focus away from the job that the freshman did, and how her teammates have adjusted their own games.

“Chloe Jenkins has taken such a leadership role,” Burkman said of the senior. “She is adjusting her role on the team and I couldn’t be more proud of her. I also really want to compliment Olivia Gray for her perseverance through a lot of adversity.”

Jenkins was still in the middle of things, finishing with 10 points and 13 rebounds for her second double-double of the season. The two bigs were the cause of the 58-37 Southmont rebound advantage.

Another underclass player off the bench also had a big impact, although earlier in the game.

Kenzie Douglas scored all six of her points in the third quarter, two in a 6-0 run in the last 90 seconds of that third period, as the Mounties broke open a tie game.

The contest had been back and forth all evening at Bob Tandy Gym, as South jumped out early, but fell victim to ferocious Falcons defensive pressure and turned the ball over a few too many times.

The visitors held South without field goal in the second quarter, and a four-point Mounties lead at the end of one quarter was a four-point deficit at halftime.

South made the offensive adjustment, however, and the turnovers slowed down while the offense was getting more and better shots. 

The home team had only six turnovers in the fourth quarter and not a single one in the OT.

The Falcons never let up on the defensive pressure, but were not able to get inside enough late and shot only one free throw in the overtime, as opposed to South’s going 6-of-12 from the line.

They were led in scoring by Kera Dunham’s 19 points. The sophomore grabbed a team-best seven rebounds. All of their scoring came from their starters, as Braxtyn Dunham had 10 points, Cadence Dunham 11 and Lauren Ellis had 10. They were 24-of-47 from the field while South was 18-of-54. The Mounties missed all eight three-pointers while the Falcons were 4-of-10. NV had 21 turnovers while forcing 28 by South.

“The togetherness of the team down the stretch is the biggest point,” Burkman said. “Everyone on the bench was rallying for the girls on the floor, from the ones fouled out to the rest. We have lots to work on, but tonight was a good night, a good game.”

South is idle for a few days, as they next play in the Sugar Creek Classic a week from Friday when they will take on Western Booen in game one of the tournament at 6 pm which is hosted this season by North Montgomery.

South’s JV picked up a 55-29 win to open the night. Molly Williams had 15 to lead the Mounties.