YELLOW SPRINGS — The host Yellow Springs Bulldogs girls basketball team led for most of the contest, against Metro Buckeye Conference leader Miami Valley, and so Springs coach Jack Hatert was obviously pleased with his team’s effort.
That effort just wasn’t enough to upend the Rams.
After being held scoreless for the entire third quarter, Miami Valley’s Elea Karras caught fire in the fourth to rally the Rams to Monday night’s 41-36 win.
“When you break it down, she’s really our team leader,” said Miami Valley coach Randy Duff. “And that’s probably not a good place for her to be, because she’s only a sophomore in high school, and she’s 15 years old. But she’s a very talented player, and she’s drawn a lot of recruiting interest. This is a good grow-up game for us, she needs to learn to step up in tough road games like this.
“She did that tonight.”
Duff credited the Yellow Springs fans for their rowdy support, saying they created an exciting environment in which to play Monday’s battle. “We’re glad to get out of here with a win. I told my kids in the locker room, I’d rather win ugly than lose ugly,” Duff said.
Miami Valley (7-1, 4-0 Metro Buckeye Conference) led 11-2 after one quarter of play, but went cold in the shooting department for the rest of the first half. The scoring drought enabled Yellow Springs (3-3, 1-2 MBC) to get back into the game.
With scores by Shanice Wright, Brianna Ayers, Molly Hendrickson, Wright, Ayers and then Wright again — this time with a jumper from the left side with 2:38 left in the half — the Bulldogs had suddenly grabbed the lead, 18-17.
A free throw by Elizabeth Smith with a second left in the half gave Yellow Springs a hard-fought 23-22 lead at the break.
Yellow Springs led 30-27 after three quarters of play, but Smith was the only Bulldog to score for the rest of the game.
She tied the contest at 36-all with 2:20 left to play, but a driving layup by Karras, followed by a pair of Karras free throws, and then a final free-throw score by sister Tia Karras, enabled Miami Valley to rally for the win.
“I was more worried about the first quarter than the fourth quarter,” Yellow Springs coach Jack Hatert said. “We started off slow, we got into a bit of foul trouble, but we played hard the whole game. And that’s what I want our girls to do, no matter what the situation. If we can continue to play hard, things will fall into place.
“I told the girls: This game came down to execution in the fourth quarter. If we’d have finished our layups, we would have finished on top. I was pleased with the effort. We executed our plan the way we wanted. Now we just need to finish.”
Smith finished with 15 points for the Bulldogs, and Wright finished with 10 points, to lead the team. Yellow Springs is scheduled to next play Thursday against Dayton Christian. According to the Metro Buckeye Conference’s website, that 7:30 p.m. game will be held at Miamisburg Middle School.
Miami Valley was led by sophomore Elea Karras, who finished with a game-high 21 points, 10 of which came while rallying the Rams to the win in the fourth quarter. Miami Valley will host The Wellington School for a 2 p.m. contest on Saturday.