By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Late in the second quarter Feb. 2, the Rossville Lady Wolves took a 21-12 lead over the Tipton-Rosemark Academy Lady Rebels.
But this wouldn’t be Groundhog Day for the Lady Rebels. In recent games, a sizable advantage kept growing and growing leading to a TRA defeat.
On this night in the TRA Gymnasium, the hot shooting of senior Taylor Beasley and eighth-grader Megan Sanfratello helped the Lady Rebels overcome the deficit. Eventually Keith Cox’s Lady Rebels pulled out a 46-41 over their league rivals.
“We’ve talked about the struggles and everything,” Cox said. “Tonight was just one of those nights to where you just have to win. You do have to lose tough ones first in order to learn how to win the close ones.
“We started playing winning basketball tonight,” he added. “Sometimes when you’re trying to turn things around, especially with a young group, you’re going to lose some tough games before you finally learn how to to win those.”
Behind 21-12 in the second quarter, Sanfratello hit a baseline three-pointer to start the TRA comeback. Emily Fisher followed with a bucket to make the score 21-17.
The Lady Rebels trailed 21-18 at the break. To start the third period, TRA senior Brooke Bridges hit a three-pointer to make the score 23-21 in favor of Rossville.
TRA finally tied the game at 25-25 when Sanfratello drained another triple.
Behind 27-25, the Lady Rebels grabbed the lead when Sanfratello hit a trey. Then her teammate Ally Naifeh made a bank shot in the post to make the score 30-27 in favor of TRA.
To close out the third quarter TRA received a Beasley three-pointer and 5 points from Sanfratello to make the score 38-35 with the Lady Rebels ahead.
TRA’s lead grew to 40-35 in the fourth quarter when Naifeh made a bucket in the post.
The Lady Wolves chipped away at the TRA advantage make the score 40-39. Then a free throw from Fisher and Naifeh made the score 42-39.
Rossville cut the deficit to 42-41 with a basket. The stage was set for TRA eighth grader Abby West. Taking on a new role of post defender and offensive player, West was having struggles throughout the night.
Apparently the shadows over her game went away in time for West to draw a foul with 32.8 seconds left in the game. West nailed both foul shots in the clutch to make the score 44-41.
Naifeh iced the game seconds later with a pair of free throws.
“We had everything shacked against us tonight,” Cox said. “We were down two post players. So we’re really small right now. We’re normally small anyway. Ally and Taylor both got two fouls there in the first quarter. They’re two of our leaders. So we had to just play them with two fouls. It ended up working out. We battled back and cut into their lead.
“Players made plays,” he continued. “Megan Sanfratello made shots. Megan was huge and we know that’s what we need her to do. People are going to key in on Ally and double down on her. Every time she catches the ball in the post. But when we’re playing well offensively, that ball is getting kicked out for open shots. And when we’re knocking down threes, we can be pretty good.”
Cox noted from West’s key free throws to the defensive effort of players like Brittany Hall, the league victory took a collective effort.
“Team win definitely,” he concluded. “Rossville is currently in second in our district. That’s a good team and they have three seniors who have played a ton of basketball. They were 18-5 coming into this game. Not only a team win all the way around with everybody coming together, but a team win over a very good basketball team.”