Sometimes the less a coach says, the more it means.
Early in the season, the Middletown Christian girls basketball team lost a 13-point halftime lead against Miami Valley in losing by 15. Now, all coach Brent Tolson has to say to the team at halftime of a close game are two words:
Thursday at home, the Eagles got some revenge on the Rams, 54-39 on Senior Night.
“That was big,” Middletown Christian junior Hope Ethridge said, referring to the first game with the Rams. “I think it was a big contributor to our winning (tonight). We are a lot more ambitious as a team now.”
The Eagles led 9-8 after a first quarter where the teams combined to turn the ball over 14 times before taking off in the second quarter. Ethridge started a 7-2 run to close the half with the hosts up 24-19.
“We were down five at half and I was alright with that,” Miami Valley coach Randy Duff said. “We were going to come out and answer with the press, but when you don’t play hard the press doesn’t work and they picked it to pieces.”
Senior Allie Burton got things started for the Eagles before Ethridge, Makenzie Tolson and Cyia Butler all got fast-break baskets after breaking the press for a 41-25 lead with one minute left to play in the third quarter.
“They came out and killed us with that press the first time we played them,” Tolson said. “We panicked against it. This time we were calm, but we have worked hard in practice on beating the press. We moved the ball better.”
Miami Valley got as close as 48-37 in the fourth quarter on a three-point play by Elea Karras with 3:57 left, but the Eagles closed the game out from the line.
“We have stressed attacking so much that the girls have a hard time having the patience to pull the ball out in situations like that,” Tolson said. “This group was 1-20 last year. I never thought we would be 11-8 right now.”
Ethridge, however, thought the Eagles could have success this year before the season even started.
“We were all coming back together,” Ethridge said after recording 12 points and 19 rebounds. “Some of us hadn’t played last year, but we all had a connection with each other. I knew we weren’t going to be bad; it’s taken a lot of work for us to get better.”
Tolson led the Eagles with 22 points while Karras led the Rams with 14 poins with Christinie Adib adding 10.
“We start three freshmen and some nights you are not going to get to them,” Duff said. “We are such a young team that we have lost a couple we weren’t supposed to and this would go into that column, no disrespect to Middletown Christian.”
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