Gregg Haines had a simple halftime message for his Greeneview girls basketball team: Ashton Lovely needs some help. And help she got.
First up was junior point guard Natasha Siebenaler with back-to-back 3-pointers to get the Rams back into the game in the third quarter. Then it was freshman guard Kristen Combs with back-to-back 3s to give the Rams a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter.
In the end, it was Lovely making four free throws in the final 18 seconds to secure a 50-44 victory Thursday night over nonconference rival Clinton-Massie.
“Ashton’s a heck of a player, but we have to have other people step up and Tasha and Kristen did that,” Haines said.
Lovely, the Rams’ high-scoring Division I college prospect, scored 13 points in the first half on the strength of three long 3-pointers. But the bigger and more physical Falcons (12-3) kept the ball out of her hands more than usual, fought over screens to keep her from shooting and collapsed in the lane when she drove. She still managed to lead the Rams (15-1) with 19 points.
With Greeneview trailing 24-19 at halftime, Siebenaler scored eight in the third and capped a 6-0 run to close the quarter with a driving layup for a 35-32 lead. Combs’ two 3-pointers, one from each corner, put the Rams up 46-39 with 3:31 left. She scored 10 points.
“It was really important because no one was stepping up in the first half,” Lovely said. “If they’re all focusing on me, someone’s going to be open. They finally realized it, and it was really important.”
After winning a lot of Ohio Heritage Conference games by large margins, Haines wasn’t sure how his team would respond to an opponent that the Rams hadn’t beaten in at least 10 years.
“It’s hard to keep the intensity up in some of those games, so that’s what I was worried about here,” Haines said. “But they were intense from the beginning tip to the end.”
The Falcons were led by 6-foot forward Kasey Uetrecht with 28 points, including 18 in the first half. Lovely guarded the much bigger Uetrecht in the second half and held her to one field goal.
The Falcons were playing without another 6-foot junior forward, Sydney Brackemyre, a Division I prospect like Lovely. She tore the ACL in her left knee in late December and will miss the rest of the season.