FREMONT – A regulation high school basketball game is 32 minutes, which was unfortunate for the Fremont Ross girls basketball team Monday night.
Had the game gone another minute or so, the Lady Giants may well have come out on top.
An ice-cold first-half performance led to a deep hole but a red-hot second half enabled the Lady Giants to mount a stirring comeback attempt only to fall just short in a 73-68 loss to Tiffin Columbian.
“We ran out of time and we got going too late,” coach Juan Vela said. “I told the girls I was proud of their efforts, they could have bagged it, but they really made it a game.”
The Lady Giants fell into a an early by a combination of their own shots refusing to fall and Tiffin Columbian shooting a high-percentage on the other end of the floor.
Ross was just 8-of-32 from the field in the first half, including a 2-for-18 mark from the 3-point, while Columbian shot 15-33, including six 3-pointers and the Tornadoes took a 43-21 lead into halftime.
“We just can’t let teams catch on fire like that in the first half and it all starts with defense,” Vela said. “We have to contest shots. When you’re open, a varsity player can hit an open shot and that’s one thing we didn’t take away.”
Columbian’s lead grew to as many as 23 early in the third quarter, but the Lady Giants’ offense finally began to heat up.
Brooklyn and Olivia Baptista each hit 3-pointers in the final minute of the third quarter to give the Lady Giants momentum going into the fourth quarter having trimmed the deficit down to 11.
Still trailing by 11 midway through the fourth quarter, the Lady Giants got a lift from an unexpected source. Sophomore Aries Freeman, playing her first minutes at varsity outside of late-game minutes, entered the game to help on defense against Columbian’s sophomore sensation Kaia Woods. Moments after checking in, Freeman stole the ball and took it in for a layup. Seconds later another Columbian turnover wound up in Freeman’s hands and she hit a short jumper to trim the lead down to seven points with 3:00 to play.
“I know she’s quick, I know what she’s capable of doing and we needed a little bit of that,” Vela said of Freeman. “She got us a steal, she gave us pressure and it happened to be she got the ball in her hands and I was kind of worried there, but she had four points in a key situation. It got the girls excited, it got everybody excited.”
With one minute to play Rachel Gore hit a 3-pointer to make it a four-point game. Following a Tornado free throw, Gore hit another from behind the arc to cut to two with 34 seconds to go but the Lady Giants came no closer. Columbian hit 3-of-4 free throws in the final 30 seconds while Ross’ last-ditch shots missed the mark to bring the comeback attempt to an end.
“She’s always in the right spots and she hits big buckets,” Vela said of Gore, who finished with 19 points. “But, like I said, I need big buckets in all four quarters. But our girls never gave up, they came to play in the second half but unfortunately we got the L.”
Brooklyn Baptista finished with a team-high 20 points and Olivia Baptista had six assists to go with eight points and Ross shot 8-of-17 from the 3-point line in the second half.
“The second half they came out with a purpose,” Vela said of the Lady Giants. “They shot the ball with more confidence, played defense with more confidence, they were more aggressive, we got more rebounds. They just got it done in the second half.”
The Lady Giants (8-5 overall) and will host Toledo Central Catholic Thursday at 7:30.
Tiffin Columbian 73, Fremont Ross 68
TC| 24—19—13—17 73
FR| 15—6—24—23 68
TIFFIN COLUMBIAN (73)
Kaia Woods 31; Serena Ingalls 12; Hannah Cooper 6; Abby Dryfuse 6; Hailey Cooper 15; Brook Boes 1; Abby Haner 2.
FREMONT ROSS (68)
Brooklyn Baptista 20; Olivia Baptista 8; Rachel Gore 19; Jasannah Sabiers 4; Marissa Overmyer 4; Mikeaya McLaurin 4; Molly Mies 5; Aries Freeman 4.
Tiffin Columbian 51, Fremont Ross 31
TC| 14—13—11—13 51
FR| 10—6—7—8 31
TIFFIN COLUMBIAN (73)
Morlock 6; Newland 8; T. Ingalls 17; M. Ingalls 9; Dines 11.
FREMONT ROSS (68)
Mekhia Williams 8; Sarah Widman 12; Jakaia Harper-Horn 5; MeKenna Englund 6.
Edison 31, Fremont Ross 26
E| 5—8—13—5 31
FR| 2—8—9—7 26
FREMONT ROSS (26)
Aleah Whaley 5; Alana Smith 3; Heather Szymanowski 6; Faith Beaver 7; Jerica Walton 3; Isabel Vasquez 2.