By Jeremy McDonald
ST. PAUL, Ore.– Mohawk would take the 22-21 halftime lead over the second-ranked St. Paul Buckaroo Girls Basketball team probably every time as they did Monday night.
For the first 16 minutes of St. Paul’s 45-36 victory, the Mustangs had pressed, rebounded and shot the ball well against the defending 1A State Champions at St. Paul’s home gym. They hit on two-late three’s, the latter one coming by JJ Nations at the buzzer to give Mohawk their halftime lead.
“The first half went pretty well for us, better than we were planning because we were afraid that the first few minutes were going ot be a little rough,” said the Mustang’s Kendyle Gormley. “But we had to bring it together and it definitely went so much better than we though it would.”
Neither team held a lead more than five points during the first half despite surrendering runs of 10-0 and 10-4 during the opening half.
There was some unease for the Buckaroos confronted with the full-court press they faced while knocking off some rust from not playing in ten days. Fouls were an issue entering the second half as Mary and Annabelle Davidson each had three fouls each to Erin Counts two.
“(Coach Dave Matlock) definitely said that the first half was a lot of energy that was in a negative way and that wasn’t us. He said we need to bring it back to our game, play the second half (and) the rest of the way we normally do and get those jitters out in the first half,” said St. Paul’s Isabelle Wyss. “We knew they were going to bring a lot of energy coming off of those last two three’s hit.”
Wyss scored five of her 12 points in the third quarter to lead the offensive charge, the Buckaroo offense fed off of turnovers caused by their defense and were winning rebound battles to give themselves a 30-22 lead to start the second half. Mohawk would eventually cut the lead to 38-34 during the fourth quarter however.
“That’s a really good team,” Wyss said of the Mustangs. “That was a lot of fun, that’s good competition. We could easily see them again in the State Tournament, they’re great. It was great overall.”
St. Paul has had their fair share of tight games and having to execute down the stretch for their wins this season. For Mohawk, their last close game was on January 14 when they played at Eddyville Charter, a 68-38 win that day on the road.
With two league games remaining plus facing current number one Crane to close out the regular season, being able to react to situations with the playoffs looming for each team.
“Just calming down in situations when they’re pressing up on us and making it frustrating on us,” said Gormley. “It was definitely hard for us, but I think we did the best we could in that situation. Maybe a little bit more but, they definitely pushed us for it.”
Gormley finished with a game-high 15 points, teammate Peyton Robinson added ten. Annabelle Davidson finished with ten points for St. Paul.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald