The Saint Francis Wolves Girl’s Basketball team took a tough defeat, despite a furious comeback against Cedar Key. The Cedar Key Sharks did just enough in the fourth quarter to hold on and win 28-27. The struggles in the first three quarters by the Wolves proved to be too much in this game.
First-Half Troubles for the Wolves
The first 16 minutes for Saint Francis were not so great. After making the game’s first basket within thirty seconds, they went the next seven minutes without scoring. While the Wolves were making plays defensively to stifle the Sharks’ offense, the lack of scoring put them behind at the end of the first.
The second quarter did not fare much better for the Wolves. After an early layup by freshman Allie Dey, Saint Francis did not make a field goal after that. The offense had trouble manufacturing clean shots against the Cedar Key defense. Another aspect of play that hurt the Wolves was the offensive rebounds. Four of the Sharks’ six points in the second quarter were second-chance points. Despite the number of mistakes Saint Francis was making, they were only down 4 at halftime.
Tale of Two Quarters in the Second Half
The third quarter was dominated by the Sharks, as the Wolves had no answers on either side of the ball. An 8-0 run in the first three minutes, extended Cedar Key’s lead to 11. With 4:03 left in the third, Coach Josh Kerkau replaced his starting lineup with five players off his bench. After the substitution, he told his starters to play a full-court press the rest of the way.
The last four minutes still proved too difficult for Kerkau’s girls, as they could not find the basket. The Sharks led 24-8 at the end of the third, with the Wolves failing to record points in those eight minutes. Sophomore Raechel Brinkman, who led the game with 17 points, scored eight of those in a huge third for the Sharks.
Finishing Strong in the Fourth
The full-court press in the last eight minutes of play was huge for Saint Francis. The effort shown by the Wolves in the fourth quarter helped start a comeback. The Sharks struggled at times to deal with the press, which helped the Wolves get a 7-0 run in a minute. Junior Alexandra Bhatia, who started the scoring in the fourth quarter, would produce 8 of her 14 points in the fourth.
Even though the Wolves were still making mistakes in the fourth quarter, they cut the deficit to five with 1:19 left. They were able to make two stops on defense, and free throws would shrink the Sharks’ lead to 3. The Wolves stood their ground defensively in the last 36 seconds of play, as they got the ball back with 6 seconds left. A three-pointer was needed in the final 6 seconds, but instead only mustered a two-point shot.
Coach Kerkau took responsibility for the mistakes that were made in this game. He also praised the effort in the fourth quarter by his players, despite the comeback falling short. In addition, he felt that his team was able to even out their mistakes in the fourth quarter, which is how they were able to play well in the fourth.
Saint Francis will host Bronson next and hope to start the game better. When asked about what his team needed to do to fix their mistakes at the start of games, Kerkau said,
“What we need to do tomorrow is start the game with the intensity that we showed in the last ten minutes or so of the game. Even though we were still making mistakes towards the end of the game, the intensity and effort was making up for that.”
The Wolves hope that they can keep up the effort they put up in the fourth quarter, so they can get a result tomorrow.