The Melcher-Dallas girls basketball team may have drawn first blood, but it was their cross-county rivals, Twin Cedars, that responded by throwing haymakers and smothering the Saints’ attack for a 50-29 victory in a Regional Tournament bout that was over after the first two rounds.
Following a 3-0 start by Melcher-Dallas, the Sabers man-to-man defense cranked up the intensity to force several turnovers and spark a 28-5 run to end the first half. Twin Cedars’ guard Ayla Crosby said the team made important defensive adjustments to counter things the Saints had done well in the two previous meetings.
“We started out in man-to-man [defense] because we had to shut them down somehow,” said Crosby. “The first conference game we lost to them [Melcher-Dallas], so we had to figure out something different this time to make it to the second round of Regionals. We switched to man-to-man and shut ‘em down.”
Crosby finished the game with 11 points and 6 rebounds as one of nine Sabers to register a point, while teammate Alee Hugen scored a game-high 16. On the other bench, a frustrated Jon Suntken said the early deficit just seemed to cause more problems for a squad that was already struggling to find its rhythm.
“We got down eight or ten [points] and panic set in. We tried to catch up one basket at a time and made some bad passes; things that we don’t normally do but we did tonight,” said Suntken. “Give [Twin Cedars] credit, they brought their ‘A’ game, and we brought about our ‘D’ game.”
The Saints’ Maddie Roland had a team-best 11 points and 6 rebounds. The loss ends Melcher-Dallas’s season at 9-13 overall. Twin Cedars, meanwhile, is now 17-5 and advances to the second round of the Class 1A Regional Tournament to face highly-touted Lynnville-Sully. Sabers’ forward Kenzie McCarty says the team enters the second round with nothing to lose and everything to gain.
“We need to go into the game with confidence. There’s no pressure on us; it’s all on them [Lynnville-Sully],” said McCarty. “They’re ranked fourth in the state, so if we would upset them it’s all on them, and nothing on us if we lose. Hopefully we’re going to go in with confidence and have our heads up.”
That game will take place on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. in Sully.