Granite City overcomes O'Keefe's foul troubles in victory over Collinsville
February 1, 2013Collinsville High School
COLLINSVILLE • With its best player either struggling or on the bench for much of the game, the Granite City girls basketball team still found a way to win Thursday night.
Despite only nine points and 4-for-17 shooting from 6-foot-2 senior Natalie O'Keefe, who fouled out early in the fourth quarter, the Warriors were able to earn a 40-32 Southwestern Conference win at Collinsville. It was the second win over the Kahoks this season for Granite City, which improved to 13-12 overall and 6-6 in the SWC.
"Natalie has been the heart and soul of our team and I told the girls 'she's been picking up you up all year long, and tonight you picked her up,' " Granite City coach Raffi Karibian said. "She goes 17 (points per game), 13 (rebounds) and seven (rebounds), and it's tough to take that out of the lineup. To be honest, they had some tough calls go against them, too.
"I can't be any more proud of every kid that was out there tonight. Lindsay Levault has a medial collateral ligament injury and she didn't play, so we were already a person short. They just found ways to make big baskets, get big free throws and make big stops."
Senior guard Tatiana Wartenbe gave Granite City a boost with a game-high 14 points, including six in the fourth quarter.
"Tat is getting better and better," Karibian said. "She learned a lot from Paige (Luehmann) last season to be more of a leader and to be more aggressive offensively. She always guards the other team's best player and that wears her out a lot of times offensively."
"We ran our offense and we handled the ball right," Wartenbe said. "I think this was my best game so far this season."
It was a game of missed opportunities for Collinsville, which dropped to 11-11 and 6-6.
"Our key was to get (O'Keefe) in foul trouble or at least limit her playing time and we did that, but we couldn't take advantage of it," Kahoks coach Lori Billy said. "Our shots wouldn't drop."
The Kahoks started strong, taking a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter on a free throw by Karla Halde. But a rebound basket by Malori Meador gave Granite City a 15-14 halftime lead.
"We got into a little foul trouble at the beginning and we had to put Aubreeney (Brady) and Karla on the bench," Billy said. "With O'Keefe off, you've got to be able to attack them and we weren't able to do it."
With O'Keefe picking up her fourth foul 55 seconds into the third quarter, Collinsville scored the first five points of the quarter, going ahead 20-15 on a free throw by Samantha Buettner with 3:11 remaining.
Granite City battled back to take a 25-22 lead on a free throw by O'Keefe with 6:09 left in the fourth quarter. O'Keefe fouled out 16 seconds later, but a jumper by Wartenbe extended the Warriors' lead to 27-22 with 5:27 remaining.
"They had a couple free throws and a couple threes go in and out and they just couldn't separate themselves," Karibian said of Collinsville. "That gave us enough hope to hang around."
A layup by freshman Julie Scheiter gave Collinsville its final lead, 30-29, with 2:18 to play. But Granite City answered with an 8-0 run, going up 37-30 on a free throw by Wartenbe with 28 seconds remaining.
Freshman Kassidy Smith led Collinsville with 10 points. Halde, a McKendree University recruit, had five points in the first four minutes, but was held scoreless the rest of the game.
"They were double- and triple-teaming her and trying to take her out of the game," Billy said. "We threw the ball into into her a couple times and there were three pairs of hands that weren't hers."