ROSSVILLE – A 2-14 Rossville team set itself up perfectly to pull off the upset of an Attica squad that was 13-4 coming into Thursday night’s matchup.
However, the Hornets were unable to make a second-half double-digit lead stand, and the visiting Red Ramblers crashed the offensive glass and took advantage of opportunistic turnovers to rally for a 41-36 victory.
It’s not hard to pinpoint what went wrong for the Hornets (2-15): rebounding. The Red Ramblers’ 24 offensive rebounds nearly matched Rossville’s overall total of 27.
“If you don’t rebound you’re not going to win,” said Rossville head coach Jeff Henley. “Three times on free throws we gave up the rebound and cost us eight points. You don’t deserve to win when you do that. They played hard most of the time, and then we have moments where we don’t rebound off free throws or play absolutely scared, which I don’t understand.
“We always find some way to lose a game. We played scared in the second half. We had a nice lead.”
Attica finished with 43 total rebounds for the game.
Rossville also turned the ball over 25 times, 15 coming in the second half, to help Attica rally from a 20-9 deficit early in the second half.
Of the 24 offensive rebounds, the biggest one came with 29 seconds left when – with Attica up 39-35 – Ashley Mitton slipped past a block out, grabbed the board and put it in the basket for a 41-35 lead.
“Rebounding is recognition and effort,” Henley said. “It’s not hard to recognize off a missed free throw. It’s not like it’s rebounding very long. The kids want to win, but you have to play well all the time.”
It was an entertaining final 10 minutes. Attica took its first lead of the game with 2:13 left in the third when Chloe Spragg converted a three-point play for a 24-23 lead. That kicked off a 7-0 run, capped off by a Maci Kyger basket to give Attica a 28-23 advantage with 5:41 left.
But Rossville stayed calm, and seniors Hannah Alling and Emily Virtue-Gamblin connected on back-to-back 3-pointers to push the Hornets ahead 29-28 with 4:25 left.
The good times didn’t last long. Attica went on a 10-2 run over the next 2:15 to take a 38-31 lead as the Red Ramblers cashed on a pair of Hornet turnovers, with Kyger registering the steal both times.
“We had a couple bad plays back-to-back that really got their momentum up,” Virtue-Gamblin said.
Mitton shot 3 of 13 from the field, but still finished with eight points and did most of Attica’s work on the glass, finishing with a team-high 19 rebounds. Mitton tallied 18 rebounds against Clinton Central back on Jan. 14.
“We just need to learn and build from this experience,” Virtue-Gamblin said. “We need to block them out more. We’re struggling for height, but they were a lot more aggressive on the boards. We need to become more aggressive as individuals.”
Kyger came off the bench to lead Attica with 11 points and seven steals. Kaylynn Kirkpatrick hit three 3-pointers in the second half to finish with nine points.
“They didn’t change their defense whatsoever,” Henley said. “They may have become a little more aggressive and we didn’t respond to it. We controlled the tempo for the game.
“They’ve won 13-14 games. They’ve got confidence and we don’t have a whole lot of confidence. We just made one bad play after another in the second half.”
Things looked rosy for Rossville early on, jumping out a 13-2 lead in the first quarter after making five of its first six field goal attempts. After Attica cut the deficit to 13-7, a 5-0 Hornet run made it 18-7 and the Hornets went into halftime with an 18-9 lead.
Attica shot an abysmal 3 of 27 from the field in the first half to allow Rossville to build its lead.
Virtue-Gamblin led the Hornets with 11 points. Michaela Miller had seven points – all in the first half – as did Brittyn Oliver. Alling chipped in six points.
Attica 41, Rossville 36
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Attica 6 3 15 17 - 41
Rossville 13 5 5 11 - 36
Attica (14-4) 41
LaDuke 2-6 1-3 5, Borden 0-6 0-0 0, Harmeson 2-3 0-3 4, Kirkpatrick 3-16 0-0 9, Mitton 3-13 2-6 8, Kyger 4-9 3-6 11, Spragg 1-1 2-3 4, Stoll 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 15-54 8-21 41.
Rossville (2-15) 36
Alling 2-7 0-0 6, Virtue-Gamblin 4-10 2-2 11, Memmer 1-2 1-2 3, Miller 3-7 1-2 7, Fife 1-2 0-2 2, Oliver 1-3 4-6 7, Longenecker 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 12-32 8-14 36.
3-point field goals: A 3-19 (Kirkpatrick 3-15, LaDuke 0-2, Borden 0-2), RV 4-14 (Alling 2-7, Virtue-Gamblin 1-4, Oliver 1-2, Miller 0-1). Rebounds: A 43 (Mitton 19), RV 27 (Virtue-Gamblin 6). Assists: A 5 (Harmeson 2), RV 8 (4 with 2). Steals: A 11 (Kyger 7), RV 8 (Fife 3). Blocks: A 2 (Mitton, Spragg 1), RV 3 (Miller 2). Turnovers: A 19, RV 25. Total fouls: A 15, RV 17. Fouled out: None.
Rossville senior Lindsay Fife finished with two points, three rebounds, three steals, two assists and a block in the Hornets’ 41-36 loss to Attica on Thursday.
Rossville’s Michaela Miller (22), Danielle Memmer (20) and Lindsay Fife (30) surround Attica’s Ashley Mitton in the first half of Thursday night’s contest.