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Playing without its three guards for the final four minutes against Greenville on Tuesday was too much for the Vandalia girls basketball team to overcome during a 52-48 loss.
Senior Haley Wollerman was hit with her fifth foul with 5:54 left in the game, and junior Amber Bruno got her fifth 1:37 later.
The biggest blow, however, was the loss of sophomore Megan Godoyo, who suffered a left knee injury with 4:13 left in the game. She returned to the game about three minutes later, drove to the basket once and made two frees, but she hurt herself again with 44 seconds left to play.
“She’s tough,” said coach Michelle McNary. “That took a lot of guts and courage to come back in. Hopefully, we’ll get a good result, and it won’t be a (torn meniscus).”
Prior to her injury, Godoyo gave Vandalia its first lead, with a 3-point play with 5:54 left in the game, and her two free throws after the injury put the Lady Vandals ahead, 46-45.
Greenville made 5-of-6 free throws in the final 28.7 seconds to close out the win, and McNary said she was pleased to see that the loss of the team’s top three scorers didn’t allow the Lady Comets to pull away to a big win.
In the fourth quarter, the Lady Vandals were called for eight fouls, while Greenville was assessed just four.
Vandalia started that quarter with the momentum, turning over Greenville twice in the first minute of the period and scoring five points to tie the game at 39.
But after that, there were so many stoppages in play, that the Lady Vandals were unable to maintain it.
“It’s always frustrating if you can’t get into the flow of the game,” McNary said. “Things were starting to go our way, but then there was a whistle for a foul or to check something.
“But, it is what it is.”
Vandalia trailed by as many as 12 points in the second half and by as many as 17 in the game, but sophomore Morgan Cripe was able to spark a rally in the middle of the third period to get the Lady Vandals back in the game.
With 3:27 left in the third quarter, Cripe recorded a steal, grabbed her own missed shot and put it back in for a second-chance score to move Vandalia within six, and she grabbed two more rebounds and hit a 3-pointer before the end of the period.
“We’ve been on her about playing harder on defense, but she’s needs to become a little bit more offensive-minded, because she can score,” McNary said.
The loss marked the second to Greenville this season, and McNary said she hopes the team doesn’t have a mental breakdown after the game, like it did after the first loss on Dec. 5.
What she hopes it did do, however, is get the team ready for the Highland Tournament.
Tuesday’s loss was one of the more physical games the Lady Vandals have played this season, and because they will be matched up against bigger teams in Highland, they will need to continue being aggressive.
“In the past, we have not been really good with the physical play,” McNary said. “This year, we are a little bit better with it. We’re going to have to play physical (at Highland), that’s for sure.”
Tuesday, Jan. 10
Points: Bruno, 14; Hannah Edwards, 12; Godoyo, 11; Cripe, 5; Morgan Whightsil, 3; Wollerman, 3.
Rebounds: Edwards, 9; Whightsil, 7; Godoyo, 5; Cripe, 3; Wollerman, 2; Bruno, 1; Team, 1.
Steals: Edwards, 2; Godoyo, 2; Whightsil, 2; Bruno, 1; Cripe, 1; Wollerman, 1.
Blocks: Edwards, 3.
Record: 9-10 (4-6 SCC)
Saturday, Jan. 7
Points: Wollerman, 22; Bruno, 16; Edwards, 8; Whightsil, 4; Godoyo, 1.
Rebounds: Edwards, 13; Godoyo, 4; Whightsil, 4; Wollerman, 3; Bruno, 1.
Steals: Wollerman, 3; Godoyo, 2; Bruno, 1; Edwards, 1.
Vandalia vs. EAWR
Senior Hannah Edwards had her first double-double of the season, junior Amber Bruno had a season-high 27 points and the Lady Vandals showed good ball movement in the second half of a 66-33 win against East Alton-Wood River last Thursday.
Though Vandalia led by just eight, 28-20, at halftime, using a 38-point burst on offense and forcing 15 turnovers on defense allowed the Lady Vandals to steadily build a lead throughout the second half.
Bruno polished off her night with three straight fastbreak layups in 43 seconds, which left Vandalia ahead, 64-30, with 3:05 left in the game, and Edwards got her double-double with a layup 45 seconds before that.
“In the second half, we were looking to get into the passing lanes,” said coach Michelle McNary. “If we can steal the ball and push it upcourt, good things will happen for us.”
Of Vandalia’s eight fastbreaks in the game, five came off of turnovers and three came off of defensive rebounds.
That’s where Edwards comes in.
None of the fastbreaks against EAWR came from rebounds by Edwards, but that she was aggressively pursuing rebounds and calling for the ball on offense were positive signs, McNary said.
“(A double-double) was a goal, and there’s been a lot of games where she has been close,” she said. “Tonight, it seemed like she really wanted it.”
Four of her rebounds – two in each half – came on the offensive end and resulted in her scoring a total of six second-chance points.
But her height on defense can make a difference going forward, too, because with speedy guards in Bruno and senior Haley Wollerman, if Edwards can find one of them down the court on an outlet pass, Vandalia will be able to make game-changing scores in transition.
If that doesn’t happen, though, the Lady Vandals will still have a shot at winning games.
McNary said that she is pleased to see that more players have been scoring more often over the past several games – including against EAWR, when three players scored in double figures and four had at least seven points.
“We’re getting more people involved in the scoring,” McNary said. “They’re working the ball better and penetrating, so I think we’re going in the right direction.”
The Lady Oilers’ best player – Keri Harmon – scored 17 points in the game, but it was her play on defense that frustrated the Lady Vandals the most.
With her guarding Wollerman, the Vandalia senior was only able to score six points in the first, but after a switch matched sophomore Megan Godoyo against Harmon in the second half, Wollerman was freed up to score and helped carry the Lady Vandals to the win.
But bigger challenges are upcoming, starting on Saturday against Mater Dei at the Highland Tournament. In the second game at Highland, the Lady Vandals will face either Teutopolis or Belleville West.
Following the tournament is the final challenging conference game, a home battle against Litchfield.
“We know it doesn't get any easier,” McNary said.
Thursday, Jan. 5
Points: Bruno, 27; Wollerman, 16; Edwards, 10; Godoyo, 7; Whightsil, 4; Kershaw, 2.
Rebounds: Edwards, 10; Whightsil, 6; Godoyo, 4; Bruno, 2; Sellers, 2; Wollerman, 2; Cripe, 1; Dugan, 1; Kershaw, 1.
Steals: Godoyo, 6; Bruno, 3; Whightsil, 2; Edwards, 1; Protz, 1; Wollerman, 1.