Maranatha girls fall to St. Mary’s, 49-42
A winning streak wasn’t in the cards for the Maranatha Academy girls basketball team as it dropped a 49-42 decision Monday night at home against St. Mary’s of Independence.
The game originally had been scheduled for December, but a snowstorm forced the game to be postponed.
The wait may have been good for Maranatha’s offense — the Eagles broke the 40-point barrier for the second straight game — but it didn’t result in a victory.
The problem, as it has been for much of the season, was a slow start.
“We’re absolutely moving in the right direction, but the biggest thing we’ve got to fix is starting slow,” Maranatha coach Mark Schultze said. “We went down 8-1 and our shots weren’t going in. We did come back and finish the quarter well and were down 10-8.”
After shaking off the rough beginning, Maranatha hung with St. Mary’s the rest of the way. They turned in a solid second quarter, keyed in part by a 6-point outburst from freshman Hayle Toothman, and were within 29-24 at halftime.
The Eagles tied the game multiple times during the second half, but Schultze said a couple spurts of turnovers kept them from taking control of the game. That proved to be the difference as St. Mary’s hung on for the victory.
Schultze said he saw numerous positives despite the loss. For one thing, he figured out some adjustments to make in his team’s press break. He said he hopes to utilize the speed of cross country standouts Ali Bailey and Bethany Zarda to more effectively disrupt the opponent’s press. He said the Eagles scored on numerous easy layups when the quick guards got behind the defense.
Schultze also is pleased with his team’s newfound confidence in shooting after passing up open looks early in the season. The key now, he said, is to be patient enough to find the best available shot and knock it down.
“We’re putting up a ton of shots per game. We put up 68 the other night,” Schultze said, referencing his squad’s victory Friday at Pleasant Ridge.
Ashley McConnell and Zarda led Maranatha with 11 points apiece against St. Mary’s. Zarda made three three-pointers. Also for the Eagles, Toothman finished with 8 points, Bailey had 4, Emily Smith scored 3, Alyssa Strain and Emma Vavricek had 2 apiece and Mallory Keith chipped in 1.
Maranatha (1-4) defeated Pleasant Ridge 44-43 on Friday.
The Eagles trailed by double digits early and then used a memorable fourth-quarter comeback to erase a five-point deficit in the final two minutes. Bailey and Zarda knocked down three-pointers and Vavricek sank a jumper from the free throw line to put the Eagles ahead moments before the final seconds ticked off the clock.
Schultze praised his team for its effort, particularly on the defensive end. The Eagles collected 19 steals in the game. Strain had nine steals and McConnell had six thefts.
“This was the first game I felt we were as aggressive as the other team for a full game, and that was the difference,” Schultze said. “We were getting more loose balls than they were.”
Zarda led the Eagles with 12 points, McConnell had 9, Strain scored 7, Bailey and Faith Manning had 6 apiece and Vavricek scored 4.
Maranatha was scheduled to play McLouth on Tuesday night. Results were unavailable at press time. The Eagles next play on Jan. 16 at home against Barstow.