GIRLS BASKETBALL: East Central weathering storms to gain experience

Young, talented Hornets tested by schedule



After being hit by a blizzard, the crucial thing to remember is that digging your way out is going to take some time. Trying to do too much too soon can have deadly consequences.

San Marcos (then 10-4) hit East Central with a 23-1 run that spanned the first two quarters Dec. 2 in the Stan Bonewitz Center. The host Hornets (6-5) never quite got their heads above the snowline, but closed to within 52-38 when the non-district game ended.

The Rattlers led 27-15 at halftime.

“We talked about the first three minutes of the second half,” second-year East Central coach Ginger Hartman said. “We wanted to win those three minutes. Then we wanted to take it possession by possession. I told them I wanted them to play hard, no matter what the score was.”

East Central staked out a 12-4 lead with 2:21 remaining in the first quarter.

Hornets sophomore forward Brittany Rodgers (21 points) scored the game’s first three points. Six-foot-2 freshman Nalyssa Smith scored inside and assisted classmate Makayla Hamilton on a 15-foot jumper that provided a 7-2 advantage.

Smith (10 points, 11 rebounds) made a pair of free throws and Rodgers nailed a three-point basket to establish the eight-point lead. The Hornets couldn’t squelch the impending Rattlers run until the sophomore sank two free throws in the closing seconds of the half.

“We were doing some great things,” Hartman said. “We just aren’t able to really finish (shots). Once we adjusted, we started playing better and picked it up a bit.”

San Marcos tied the score 12-12 with 36.5 seconds remaining in the first quarter on a fast-break basket from Bailey Hill (16 points). East Central’s shooting cooled and the Ratllers simultaneously revved up their transition game.

A steal and layup from San Marcos point guard Shannon Mathis (14 points, 3 steals) increased the Rattlers’ lead to 14 points just 10.5 seconds before halftime.

“They definitely did a good job of handling the ball,” Hartman said. “We know what we need to work on from here, but the girls did a good job.”

San Marcos led 52-23 with 6:38 left in the fourth quarter, following a basket from Hill. The Hornets scored the next 15 points, making six free throws in the spurt. Rodgers accounted for seven points.

Her three-pointer closed the gap to 52-31 with 1:44 left. Smith drew a three-point play with little more than a minute on the clock, but missed the free throw. However, freshman Kayla Dotson was in position and scored on the rebound.

Smith also put back a rebound, with 12.8 seconds to close the scoring. She’s one of four freshman getting significant playing time. East Central is playing without injured two-year starter Janik Alexander-Smith.

“I’m very pleased with them,” Hartman said. “They’re working hard and they don’t give up. They keep coming after you the whole game.

“I like the (internal) competition. I have people on the bench who I can bring in at any time and give the starters a breather.”

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