BELLBROOK — Alyssa Beckett found herself alone near the basket with the game on the line Monday night.
All the Monroe High School sophomore forward needed was one good pass that she knew would be coming.
Teammate Sophie Sloneker drove the lane and delivered the ball to Beckett, who scored with 8.4 seconds left to give the Hornets a stunning 31-29 road win over Bellbrook in a Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division girls basketball opener.
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“It was a bit chaotic. I was just waiting for the ball and thinking that I had to make it, that it was the last opportunity,” Beckett said. “Sophie made the good drive. She always does that. She always has her head up and sees the floor. She’s a team player and has that trust in others, so it worked out.”
Monroe (2-0) rallied from a 26-17 deficit in the last six minutes to topple the Golden Eagles (0-2), who were voted No. 1 in the preseason Southwestern coaches poll.
The high-energy defensive slugfest featured no double-digit scorers as the Hornets ended a seven-game losing streak in the series. Bellbrook’s Maria Mescher topped everybody with nine points.
“It was a fight for sure,” said Sloneker, a senior guard. “People were diving for balls, hitting the floor … it was crazy out there. This is Bellbrook. Our mentality was we’re not losing to them again.”
Beckett tallied the tying and winning baskets in the last 25.1 seconds, and it was her first game of the season. She missed last Thursday’s opening win over Madison because of a four-day club soccer trip to North Carolina.
“Coming back from soccer, I was a little nervous because I hadn’t practiced with the team,” Beckett said. “But I’m glad I was able to step up and fill my role tonight. The team had my back, so that was a huge help.
“Most of the time I’ll choose basketball first because basketball’s in season right now, but soccer’s my priority. That’s what I want to do in college, but I also want to be here for the team and help out in basketball.”
Hornets coach Chad Allen admitted it’s not an ideal situation to have a player missing time because of another sport, but it’s a growing trend and something that he’s come to accept.
“She wasn’t here the last few days, but she comes back today and spends her free time at school with me going over the plays,” Allen said. “She’s trying to put that extra time in because she knows she missed some things. That’s what I like to see. You’ve got to love the girls’ attitude. You’ve got to love their hard work.”
The game-winning basket wasn’t a set play. The plan was to get the ball in Sloneker’s hands and let her create something.
“Believe it or not, we do work on that a lot,” Sloneker said. “Feed it to the block, turn in, hit that little bank. You practice like you play, right? And it worked. That’s exactly how we did it.”
“I call that great coaching by not coaching,” Allen said. “We just said, ‘Soph, come over and get the ball. It’s yours. Do something with it.’ And Alyssa was doing what she was supposed to do. When we practice those things, it’s always hands up, butt down, ready to shoot. It’s all those fundamentals, and she was ready.”
Beckett, who credited the Monroe bench for boosting the team’s energy in the comeback, couldn’t immediately celebrate her game-winner.
“It’s just a whole rush, but you’ve got to remember to get back on defense,” she said. “Like Coach Allen says, the game’s not over. You’ve got to finish strong.”
The Golden Eagles did get a 3-point attempt in the air at the other end, but it was way off the mark as time expired.
“We’ve got to be smart enough to know you can’t get too high or too low in these situations,” Bellbrook coach Jason Tincher said. “You’ve got to understand it’s early in the year and there’s things we can fix. It’s just situational basketball.”
Tincher said he’s got a pretty experienced team, but a lot of the returnees were role players last season, so they’re learning about being leaders and stepping forward at crunch time.
The hosts didn’t have a field goal in the last 7:22 against Monroe.
“I like the fact that we’re giving max effort,” Tincher said. “We have the fire in the belly and the passion that our girls always seem to have. Now we have to be smart at the game of basketball. It’s kind of easy to identify. Now we’ve just got to fix it.”
Allen said the Hornets’ fourth-quarter surge wasn’t complicated. He said it was all about attacking.
Sloneker had eight points for Monroe, and Kylee Slone and Beckett scored seven apiece. Slone drilled a key 3-pointer in the last period, while Rylen Carroll made two free throws in the last 84 seconds.
Olivia Wells-Daniels (six) and Beckett (five) paced the Hornets on the boards.
Both teams will face Franklin next. Monroe will host the Wildcats on Thursday, while Bellbrook travels to Franklin on Saturday.
MONROE (2-0, 1-0 SWBL Southwestern): Brooke Frazier 1 0 2; Sophie Sloneker 2 2 8; Kylee Slone 2 2 7; Olivia Wells-Daniels 1 0 2; Alyssa Beckett 3 1 7; Rylen Carroll 1 2 5. Totals: 10-7-31
BELLBROOK (0-2, 0-1 SWBL Southwestern): Maria Mescher 3 1 9; Maren Freudenschuss 0 2 2; Dani Westbrock 1 1 3; Kayla Paul 3 0 6; Olivia Greathouse 1 0 2; Kendall Knisely 2 0 4; Bailey Zerby 0 3 3. Totals: 10-7-29
3-pointers: M 4 (Sloneker 2, Slone, Carroll), B 2 (Mescher 2)
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