By Pete Chiodo
Through two games this season, the Meadville girls basketball team has shown that it has the ability to dig itself out of a hole. Staying out of that hole in the first place, that’s still a problem.
The Lady Bulldogs were able to erase an early 14-point deficit against visiting Central Tech, taking a 39-37 lead in the fourth quarter. But Tech still managed to pull out a win, 42-39, during the girls consolation game of the 2012 Sertoma Tip-off Tournament Saturday at the House of Thrills.
“We had a chance,” said Bulldogs head coach Casey Heller. “In the first quarter (Central) pressed us and we panicked. That’s natural for a young team. And there was about four minutes left in the second quarter we started chipping away at that lead.”
Meadville was down 23-9 in that second quarter. But the Lady Bulldogs upped the defensive effort and started forcing the Falcons into turnovers. That led to an 11-2 run for the home girls, who cut Central’s lead to 25-20 at the half. Katie Dewalt led the scoring effort for the Lady ’Dogs, tallying seven of her nine points in the second quarter.
In the third, Central’s Noelle Vallimont got hot, knocking down seven of her 12 markers in the frame, which the Falcons won 11-7 to stretch their lead to 36-27.
However, Meadville’s Marcadi McCoy, despite playing the fourth quarter with four fouls, had a dominant performance in the final frame, recording nine of her team-best 14 points while grabbing five rebounds.
That effort led to the Bulldogs enjoying a 12-1 run to start the quarter. All nine of McCoy’s points were scored during that run. With 2:53 to play, she banked in a put-back and drained the follow-up foul shot to tie the game at 37. Then the next time down the court, Dewalt delivered a lay-in to put the ’Dogs in front 39-37 with two minutes to go.
After that, though, Meadville’s offense ran out of steam. Not helping matters was the fact that senior point guard and all-tournament team selection Shauntia Vactor-Pope picked up her fifth foul with three and a half minutes to play
And the Falcons took advantage. Central’s Abby Klemm (an all-tournament team selection) drove the lane to tie the game at 39. After Meadville missed an attempt on its end, Central regained the ball and drained some clock before Makayla Clayton was put on the line. She made one of two to push the Falcons in front with 35 ticks remaining.
Meadville missed another shot attempt on its end and Klemm grabbed the rebound and was fouled. She sunk both to put the final points on the board. The MASH side had 20 seconds to try a 3-pointer to tie it, but couldn’t hang on to the ball, giving it and the game over to the Falcons.
“We had 30 turnovers again,” said Heller. “We weren’t taking care of the ball. And we had foul trouble again. And when you put that all together, it’s going to be hard to win.
“I saw some things we did better (Saturday) than we did (on Friday). But we still have a lot of areas we have to work on.”