Fourth-quarter flaws continue to plague Lady Jaguars
The fourth quarter continued to haunt Mill Valley and coach Betsy Meeks Friday night against visiting Basehor-Linwood.
After falling apart in the waning minutes last week against Lansing to blow a fourth-quarter lead, Mill Valley again failed to finish the game strong, losing 58-45 to Basehor-Linwood for the second time this season.
Last time around against the Bobcats, the Jaguars struggled to beat the press and continually turned the ball over. The press was ineffective Friday and the Jaguars cut down on what Meeks called "stupid" mistakes. However, the Jaguars' offensive woes in the fourth quarter will be hard to forget for Meeks.
"They executed; we didn't," Meeks said of the fourth quarter. "We didn't make the adjustments to their beautiful execution for four straight layups."
With Mill Valley trailing 46-41 entering the final quarter, the game was well within reach for the Lady Jags. But they only scored one basket in the first seven minutes of the final quarter and Basehor-Linwood countered by running a motion offense that ate away at the clock and forced Mill Valley to foul.
The Bobcats had just one field goal in the final quarter; however, they hit 10 of 16 free throws, including a stretch of seven straight after Cassie Lombardino opened the quarter with a miss at the line.
Mill Valley failed to play with a sense of urgency and failed to force turnovers, which it had success doing in the third quarter.
"The last two minutes we wouldn't take the ball to the basket. It's hard to tell them every little thing," Meeks said. "You have to know that you need to score when you're 10 points down. We didn't do a very good job when we went to our press. I don't know what to say."
Meeks' frustration was made worse by how well her team played the first three quarters. Both teams battled back and forth during the first three quarters with the Bobcats leading most the way.
Basehor-Linwood's biggest lead (seven points) occurred in the second quarter, but led by senior forward Lara Jonusas and junior guard Stanisha Garlington, the Jaguars battled back and closed to within two, 27-25, by halftime.
Jonusas, who finished with 10 points, started the comeback by scoring four straight points for the Jags during a span in which she grabbed three rebounds -- two offensive -- and had a steal.
"Lara doesn't realize how much she helps us on the floor," Meeks said. "She's one of those players who doesn't show up in the stats but you can't replace her.
"She has her hands on every ball that's passed almost, at least anywhere near her player. She gets big rebounds for us when we need them and she had a spurt there where she scored several times and that's icing for us."
Garlington, who also scored 10 points, finished what Jonusas started, scoring the next four for the Jags all at the free throw line to end the half.
Garlington had success driving to the basket when she was in the game Friday; however, Meeks has had to limit her minutes because of Garlington's exercise-induced asthma.
"This is the first game where she's been able to go more than a minute without having to be taken out," Meeks said. "We're on different meds and trying different things with her but there's not a lot we can do. When she is in there, she's been really effective."
Mill Valley opened the third quarter in an aggressive half court-trapping defense, which disrupted Basehor-Linwood's flow and led to five third-quarter turnovers.
Freshman point guard Carly Santualaria gave the Jaguars their first lead since the first quarter, 37-34, with a three-pointer off the glass.
The Bobcats sophomore point guard Brooke Sanders, who finished with a game- high 20 points and five three pointers, quickly countered Santualaria's shot with a three of her own. Sanders and Lombardino combined to score all 19 of their team's points in the third quarter.
Meeks said she repeatedly told her girls to face guard Sanders; however, Sanders continued to get open for threes. The Jags had no match for the 6-foot-2-inch Lombardino, who finished with 19 points and caused havoc in the paint defensively, blocking and changing many of the Jaguars' shots.
Santualaria's play at the end of the third quarter kept the Jags within striking distance. After tying the game 39-39 with a basket, Santaularia, who finished with 10 points, tossed a textbook bounce pass between defenders to Jonusas on the left block while driving through the lane. Santualaria's aggressive play as of late has pleased her coach. Tuesday in the Lady Jags' win over Piper she scored 18 points and had five threes.
"Carly has started realizing that in order to score she's got to shoot it," Meeks said. "I'd like to see her shoot it more and I think her teammates would like to see that too."
Unfortunately for Mill Valley, Santualaria was held scoreless in the fourth quarter, as were most of her teammates. Friday's loss dropped Mill Valley to 7-9
"It's all frustrating," said a worn down Meeks after the game. "We're close, but yet so far. We're getting there. We're chipping away at it and maybe we'll be there by sub-state if we keep after it."
Mill Valley's next action will come Friday, Feb. 17 at home against mighty Tonganoxie, the KVL's undefeated league leader.
Tip off is scheduled for 6 p.m.