The Rolla girls basketball team (0-1) opened their season against Marshfield in the Key Sport Classic on Saturday, Nov. 18. Aggressive defense from Marshfield made things difficult for for the Lady Bulldogs, who turned the ball over 27 times on their way to a 55-42 loss.
Marshfield pressed hard out of the gate and Rolla didn't have an answer to the added pressure. The Lady Bulldogs are trying to run a less structured offense, which made a high pressure defense a touch matchup for their first game as they adjust to the new style of play. The answer early on was forcing the ball to Rebecca Janke in the paint. The sophomore forward scored five points in the first quarter, but wasn't able to make the same impact for the rest of the game. Head coach Luke Floyd thought his team tried to force the ball to her when she was heavily guarded, which led to a number of turnovers.
"I thought (Janke) did a great job and I thought the girls did a good job of finding her. I think one of our weaknesses was that a lot of times we looked for her a little too much," said Floyd after the game. "We tried to force it into double and triple teams. I think that's an adjustment that we can make going forward."
Despite the turnovers, Rolla only trailed 16-11 after the opening quarter and they were able to whittle down that lead throughout the second. As Marshfield looked to take away Janke, things opened up for Mattie Dean down low. She scored four points in the second quarter and made a total of four trips to the charity stripe, knocking in two of those attempts. Ellie Rogers was the most consistent scoring threat, scoring four points in the first quarter and five in the second.
The Lady Bulldogs were able to tie the game at 22 with 2:20 left in the first half and took their first lead of the game about a minute later after Dean grabbed an offensive rebound and put a shot back up to jump out in front 24-22. After that, Marshfield controlled the rest of the half, scoring the next seven points to go into halftime with a 29-24 lead.
That surge by Marshfield at the end of the first half gave them all the momentum in the second, as they slowly built on that lead for the remainder of the contest. Rolla continued to have some issues with turnovers and couldn't find the scoring they needed. The Lady Bulldogs were outscored 14-8 in the third quarter to go down 43-32 and could never dig out of that hole. 10 fourth quarter points weren't enough as they fell 55-42.
Rogers fought through a sore back to lead the team in scoring with 16 points. Loran Pritchett and Rebecca Janke each added nine points and tied for the team lead in rebounds with eight. Pritchett also led the team in steals with five, while Janke led the team with four blocks. Junior Kiana Garner added four points, four steal and two rebounds, while Dean, the team's lone senior, scored four points and grabbed four rebounds.
Rolla was hampered in the second half my foul trouble. Karlee Cheesman fouled out of the game, while Dean and Rogers each ended the game with four fouls. Coach Floyd saw the foul situation as the biggest thing holding them back in the second half.
"I think part of it is that we got in foul trouble," said Floyd. "A few girls couldn't get into a rhythm because they couldn't get in the game long enough. Marshfield is just a good, well coached team. They continued to play well and pressure us defensively. They went into a little bit of a zone, which threw us off a little bit, but our girls continued to battle."
That effort was the number one thing that coach Floyd needed to see from his girls. This team is still very young and is implementing a new offense, so there will be some bumps in the road, but consistent effort is the key to getting things going in the right direction.
"I thought our effort was outstanding," said the Rolla head coach. "I feel like we did a lot of things almost right tonight. The effort was good, we get tipped balls on defense, but we couldn't come up with the loose ball, we'd run a break, but we couldn't finish the layup. There were just so many little things that were almost good, but not quite."
The Lady Bulldogs have one more game before hitting Thanksgiving break when they host Sullivan on Tuesday, Nov. 21.