by Rick Conrad
To have a chance to win a basketball game you have to be able to take care of the ball and to knock down your shots when you take them. Unfortunately, for the Caston Lady Comets, they were unable to do either as they fell in the championship game of the North White sectional to West Central, 40-29, Saturday night.
The Trojans (14-9) won their third straight sectional title.
One can’t fault the effort the Lady Comets (13-10) displayed. They played hard from the opening tip to the final horn, but too many turnovers and a dismal shooting night along with a very tight defense by the Trojans was just too much to overcome.
Caston came out of the gate fired up and quickly tried attacking the middle of the Trojan defense. Caston got an early lead but West Central’s press and trapping at halfcourt rattled the Lady Comets. With the defense extended away from the basket, Caston had trouble getting the ball near the basket for a decent shot. With 1:00 left in the opening quarter both squads were tied at 7-7. Back-to-back baskets by the Trojans’ Lexi Foerg allowed West Central to take a 11-7 lead after one.
In the second frame the Caston offense went stagnant. Repeated turnovers and missed shots were again plenty to the dismay of the Lady Comet followers. The Lady Comets’ only points of the second frame came at the 2:45 mark on a pair of free throws by Ingrid Martinez. Fortunately for Caston, West Central also went cold from the field but still took a 17-9 lead into halftime.
After the break the Comets picked up the pace on both ends of the floor. Offensively they began attacking again and defensively they became more aggressive. Their improved play on defense shook the Trojans offense as they had trouble getting the ball inside. Two short bursts of offense in the quarter allowed West Central to stay on top 28-19 after three.
In the final quarter the Trojan shooters started dialing in from outside and the Caston offense again went cold. The Comets’ first points of the fourth quarter came at the 3:43 mark on a Marli Leazenby free throw. By then West Central had claimed a 35-20 lead. With just over a minute to go in the game both teams started to empty their benches and West Central went on to claim the sectional crown.
Foerg led West Central with 10 points on the night while Alivia Kruger added nine.
The Comets were led by Martinez with a game high 11 points. Mickayla Rans added six points while Leazenby chipped in five of her own.
“You have to give all the credit to West Central,” Caston coach Carl Davis said. “Their halfcourt trap was just outstanding. They took away everything that was available to us the first time we played them and they’ve gotten a lot better as the seasons gone on.
“We just didn’t take care of the basketball on the offensive end of the floor. When we did get a look we weren’t able to finish. When you have a night like that it makes it tough to score. You then have to rely on your defense but they did a nice job of taking care of the basketball and hitting their shots.”