Carl Junction sneaks past Lady Trojans

By: Aaron Pyle

         For the Lady Trojans, Coach Brad Herlocker and his Girard team opened the regular season in a non-conference battle against the Parsons Vikings. Girard was able to hold off the Lady Vikings in dominating fashion winning by a score of 81-31. Faith Poland highlighted the Lady Trojans’ efforts scoring 28 points in the contest. Senior Jaada Valley also finished in the double-digits ending her night with 13 points.

         Following the victory, the Lady Trojans were scheduled to play the Galena Bulldogs Friday, Dec. 11 but the game was postponed due to COVID-19 to Monday, Jan. 11. For the next matchup, Girard stayed home at Ted R. Taylor Gymnasium for a matchup against Carl Junction (3-1) Monday, Dec. 14.

         Last season, the Bulldogs dominated the Lady Trojans by a score of 66-25. Carl Junction came into Monday’s matchup fresh off a narrow 52-51 victory over Carthage Thursday, Dec. 10. Lady Bulldogs sophomore Destiny Buerge highlighted Carl Junction’s victory by scoring 28 points and recording eight steals.

         In the first quarter, the two sides pushed the pace early on as the Bulldogs had the slight edge after allowing the Lady Trojans to three points in the first three minutes. After a strong start by Carl Junction, junior Olivia Cullen provided a key effort in the paint by clogging the lanes and not allowing shots from inside. Seniors Faith Poland and Makaila Ausemus provided the spark offensively scoring ten of Girard’s 16 first-quarter points. The six points from Ausemus included a buzzer-beating three to end the quarter which brought the game to a tie, 16-16.

         For the second quarter, the full-court ball pressure of the Lady Trojans started to become troublesome for Carl Junction’s offense. This sparked a 5-0 run to begin the quarter by the Lady Trojans. But the Bulldogs were able to get going from deep which helped give Carl Junction the lead back midway through the second. Carl Junction then maintained the lead for the rest of the half while the Trojans trailed closely behind. Senior Jaada Valley’s efforts driving in the lane, drawing fouls helped keep Girard within reach.

         At halftime, Girard trailed 33-28.

         Early in the third quarter, Valley provided much of the offense by driving to the lane. Carl Junction once again remained hot from deep as the Trojans’ defense had no answer for the relentless perimeter attack of the Bulldogs. Soon after the hot start to the second half by Carl Junction, the Lady Trojans defensive pressure began to once again give the Bulldogs troubles as turnovers cut the deficit late in the quarter. Another buzzer-beating three from Ausemus at the end of the third cut the Bulldogs lead to just one point.

         In the final quarter, the Bulldogs remained poised on both sides of the ball after starting the fourth on a 10-3 run. Looks that went in for the Lady Trojans in the first three quarters then began to not fall as the Bulldogs held onto their four to six point lead for the majority of the quarter. Girard narrowed the lead down to as little as three points in the final 30 seconds but key free throws helped Carl Junction pull away with the win.

         Carl Junction went on to prevail over the Lady Trojans 54-50. Valley led all scorers for Girard finishing with 15 points. Poland ended her night scoring 12 points while Ausemus tallied nine which all came from behind the arc.

         “What a difference a year makes with this group of kids,” said Coach Brad Herlocker to Dale Shireman of Girard Sports Live. “As far as adversity, I don’t know if I’ve ever had as much adversity as this team has seen. All the injuries we had last year then coming into this year. I’ve never played a game off a full week of not practicing…I thought they battled their hearts out and I think we played a really good basketball team. Tip my hat to them.”

         Looking to bounce back from the loss, the Lady Trojans (1-1) will look to capture a victory before the Christmas break against Fort Scott (0-1) Thursday, Dec. 17. Girard and Fort Scott last met in the 2017-18 season where the Lady Tigers prevailed 53-51. The contest will be held in Girard with tip-off at approximately 6 p.m. Boys game to follow.