Toronto avenges loss to Rockets

TORONTO – They say revenge is sweet.

That would be true judging from the smiles on the faces of the Toronto girls basketball team, which earned a 55-44 victory over visiting Conotton Valley Monday.

The Lady Rockets (10-5) had beaten Toronto at home in the season opener on Nov. 23 by a nearly identical score of 55-49.

“We were down by 10 points in the first quarter and had to come back,” said victorious coach Mallory Blanton. “We did it by picking up our intensity, being more disciplined, taking care of the ball and just playing more like the way we normally play.”

The victory improved the Lady Red Knights to 10-5 as they prepare to head down the final stretch of the season.

The Lady Rockets held a 17-7 lead after one quarter, but scored only six points in the second as Toronto came all the way back to take a one point lead, 23-22, at halftime.

“We knew we had to attack the basket, but we didn’t do it enough in the second half,” said Conotton Valley coach, Chandra Myers. “We just gave up some huge turnovers there in the third quarter. They just stepped into the passing lane and we threw the ball right to them.”

Myers was talking about the four straight steals Toronto had in the last two minutes of the third quarter.

After Lexie Berger hit one from downtown to put the Red Knights ahead for good at 34-33, Lindsay Bodnar got in the passing lane, dribbled the length of the floor for a layup with 1:58 left in the period to make it 36-33.

On Conotton Valley’s next possession, it was Berger making the steal and going coast-to-coast for the layup. Then Malaysia Harrison stepped in front of a Rocket pass and she too went the distance to lay it in at 48 seconds left to give the Red Knights a 40-33 lead going into the final stanza.

Toronto got a fourth- straight steal, but it didn’t result in any points.

“We just put the ball right in the passing lane and the Toronto girls jumped out and got them,” said Myers. “They’re a good team.”

Berger found nothing but net to open the final frame. That gave the Lady Knights what proved to be an insurmountable 43-33 lead. The closest the Rockets would come from there was seven points.

While all that offense was going, it was the defense the Lady Knights threw at Conotton Valley that made the difference according to Blanton.

“We put up a different defense and I think that threw them off a little bit. We switched to a triangle and two for most of the second half instead of the straight man and I think that confused them,” she said.

The defense did the trick on Olivia Bower. She poured in 20 of Conotton Valley’s 23 first-half points, but got only five in the second half (three of them from the foul line) to lead all scorers with 25 points. She was 15-of-21 from the foul line.

Berger and Bodnar proved to be the killer Bs as they led the way for Toronto with 16 points apiece.

The Lady Red Knights visit Steubenville Catholic Central Thursday.

Toronto 55, Conotton Valley 44

Conotton Valley 17 6 10 11 – 44

Toronto 7 15 18 15 – 55

CONOTTON VALLEY: Cottis 0 1-2 1, Bower 5 15-21 25, Jones 1 0-0 2, Edie 2 0-0 4, Belknap 2 1-2 5, Rossell 3 1-2 7, Manbeck 0 0-2 0. Totals: 13 18-29 44.

TORONTO: Harrison 3 0-3 6, Berger 5 2-2 16, Bauman 1 2-2 4, Brown 2 1-2 5, Bodnar 6 4-4 16, Turnover 2 3-4 7, Scheming 0 1-2 1. Totals: 19 13-19 55. 3-pointers: Berger (4).