By CHRIS MACKINDER
MONON — The Caston girls basketball team scrapped all night.
The Lady Comets played that way when they were up, they played that way when they were down, from the tip-off to the final buzzer.
It just wasn’t enough as Caston fell to South Newton 53-44 in the first round of the Class A Sectional at North Miami on Tuesday.
“Give our girls a lot of credit — they never quit out there,” Caston coach Don King said. “They’re sitting in their (the locker room) and no one’s got anything left in them.”
By the way things went on the court no one should be surprised.
In a game that was much closer than the final score indicates, Caston outrebounded South Newton 33-26, forced more turnovers (22-18) and hit the games only two three-pointers. The difference came down the stretch when South Newton had players that made plays.
“I have four seniors and I’m sure they didn’t want this to be their last game,” South Newton coach Michelle Wegner said. “Caston came out and they played a real good game.”
That was the same motivation that Caston’s Sam Loeffler was playing with. She nearly willed Caston (3-18) to a victory.
Not only did she scored 13 points, she grabbed 12 rebounds, had five steals and added numerous other hustle plays that don’t show up on the state sheet. When Caston needed a basket, she hit it. When a ball floated in the air, she ripped the rebound away from a crowd.
“She’s one of those girls that’s never going to say die,” King said. “Sam’s one of those girls that going to keep trying.”
Jessica Kantzer helped the Lady Comets on offense with 14 points and six boards and Kristen Osbon added seven points and played stellar defense.
After losing to South Newton (12-10) earlier in the season, Caston felt it could even the score with a better effort. The way things started out, it looked like the Lady Comets might do just that.
Caston scored the first four points and led for most of the first quarter. And with an aggressive defense that forced seven South Newton turnovers in the second quarter, Caston led at halftime, 14-13.
Both teams continued to struggle offensively as the second half began. But after Caston took a 19-15 lead early in the quarter, South Newton — which was finally able to play a couple key starters that were in foul trouble in the first half — took control of the game.
The Lady Rebels scored the next 10 points and held Caston scoreless for nearly five minutes, eventually taking a 29-24 lead into the final quarter.
In the fourth, Caston answered South Newton’s 7-2 run with a 11-3 run and pulled to 39-37 with 4:15 to play. After Osbon picked up a charging foul — her fifth of the game — and South Newton wasn’t called for an obvious double dribble that turned into a layup, the Comets never recovered.
“The girls kept pushing the ball and we finally were putting it into the basket,” King said. “It was just a little too late. We gave it the best shot we had.”
By CHRIS MACKINDER