Husky girls keep win streak over Toledo going

In their second meeting with Toledo, the Husky girls didn’t have it quite as easy, having beaten the Boomers by 18 the first go-around.

But the real Toledo showed up and kept the game interesting until Sweet Home began to break away in the third quarter and finally defeated Toledo, 55-48, bringing their season record to 5-3.

The Boomers’ 2-3 zone defense kept the Huskies off balance offensively, allowing Toledo to open a 6-3 lead early on. Two free throws by Ashlee Gorgita and a Hannah Swanson steal and lay-in finally gave the Huskies the lead at the end of the first quarter, 11-9.

The game went back and forth most of the second quarter until the Huskies put together a 6-0 run in the final minute, four of those by Rachel Gaskey on a basket and two free throws.

However, Kendra Lancaster fired in one of her five three pointers just before the half ended to cut the edge to one at 23-22.

Coach Jason Gorham discussed the problems with the zone at half time and stressed an aggressive attack.

“A zone tends to make you stand still, just pass the ball, and become complacent until you pass the ball into the defense’s hands,” said Gorham. “I told them never to stand, not hold the ball, be quick with your passes, and attack the gaps.”

“We didn’t want to lose because we had beaten them before,” said Ashley Wall, who was pressed into extended duty in the first half because the Huskies’ leading scorer, Kendra Greene, sat much of the time with foul problems. “We talked about coming out really hard in the second half.”

The third quarter has been the Huskies most difficult quarter this year, so Gorham adjusted their halftime routine and got the girls out early to warm up again. All these things combined seemed to provide a renewed vigor.

Greene opened with the first basket but picked up another foul just 30 seconds into the third quarter. But the Huskies, on a night when every player scored at least 4 points, never let down. They scored the first 10 points of the quarter to establish a lead of 11 before Toledo could answer with a single free throw. Gaskey scored the last four of that run, but it was a combination of a number of players playing defense, rebounding, and making good assists that kept this run going.

When Greene reentered the game just under the three minute mark in the third quarter, the Huskies went into a 3-2 zone and had difficulty picking up Lancaster, who launched two three pointers back to back. But each time she scored, the Huskies answered, first Greene and then Nicki Aerni, to stem any possibility of a momentum shift. The final scoring of the quarter came on a long full court, fast break pass by Greene to Wall, who made the basket despite being fouled and then sank the free throw. That returned the Huskies to a ten point lead at 40-30.

Toledo, however, wasn’t ready to climb on the bus and head home just yet. They opened with six unanswered points in the first minute and a half, quite often on the drives to the basket by Ashley Bellamy, who often drew the defense and then passed off to an open Boomer. Though the Huskies delivered two baskets to stretch it out to eight again, Toledo kept clawing its way back into the game and with just over two minutes to go pulled within three.

But the Huskies, as they have been accustomed to doing this year, refused to let it slip away.

A pass by Chelsea Hackworth, one of her five assists, to Greene put some more distance between the Huskies and Boomers before the game turned into a free throw shooting contest. Down the stretch, Sweet Home was 6 for 6 at the line, two each by Mallory Carlson, Greene, and Wall. Though the Boomers got to the line 15 times in the fourth quarter, they managed to make only seven, including a 3-9 drought on their final attempts.

Despite sitting for extended minutes, Greene still led the Huskies in scoring with 14 and in rebounds with 7. As the first line substition, Wall also added 7 points, 4 rebounds, two assists, and two steals. But what was very evident was the way everyone contributed, whether in scoring or assists, rebounds or defense.

Though she was upset for making mistakes with her fouls and the way it kept her on the bench, Greene had faith in her teammates.

“Everyone is confident in each other,” said Greene. “We know that anyone can step up.”

Wall believes that confidence has given the team a new attitude.

“Last year we played not to lose instead of playing to win,” said Wall. “This year we are taking it to them rather than them taking it to us.”

Coach Gorham has noticed that difference also, especially in games that were tough, physical contests.

“There has been a lot of times in the past where they would have given up in a fight like that,” said Gorham. “They wouldn’t have been aggressive like they were. But I thought we really controlled the game.”

With their limited practices and therefore limited conditioning due to the weather, Gorham was happy with the team’s effort on defense and rebounding.

“We stood up a little too much on defense, but that’s what happen when you’re tired,” Gorham stated. “But in the fourth quarter, when we had to, they got it done. It’s a sign of a good team when you can grind out wins against a good team on a night when you are struggling.”

The Huskies have one more week of non-league games before the Capital Conference action begins, playing at home against Newport and then on the road against Banks next Friday.