FREMONT – On more than one occasion Monday night, the Lady Giants looked primed to pull away from their rivals from Sandusky. But before Ross could put the game away, the Blue Streaks rallied to keep it a close contest.
But while Sandusky relied heavily on a pair of terrific scorers, the Lady Giants countered with a team-wide effort, getting scoring and defense from throughout the lineup and held on for a 58-55 victory over the Blue Streaks.
The Lady Giants opened the second quarter on a 7-0 run to open up a 10-point lead, but Sandusky’s Marisa Esposito and Quincy Burchett combined to lift Sandusky to a 27-26 halftime lead.
“When you have a guard like Esposito, she’s tough to guard, she’s aggressive and not scared to take shots,” Ross coach Juan Vela said. “It seemed like when we had a run going she would take over and hit a couple big shots, or (Burchett), she hit three 3-pointers in the first half, it felt like we couldn’t get over that hump.”
The Lady Giants, however, answered in the third quarter, again opening the period on a 7-0 run to re-take the lead. While Ross took the lead, Sandusky went away from the success it enjoyed on the perimeter and instead focused on getting the ball into the post. While the Blue Streaks had a size advantage with 6-foot Jamaria Glover and 5-11 Da’Shanti Miller, Ross’ interior trio of Molly Mies, Marissa Overmyer and Jasannah Sabiers, were up to the task. They played tough defense inside, holding their ground against the bigger Blue Streaks, grabbed rebounds and held Miller and Glover to combine for just eight points on the night.
“We said ‘If they catch the ball in the block, it’s going to be hard to defend because they’re strong, and a drop-step layup is not hard to do,’ so we tried to make them catch the ball outside,” Vela said. “…Overall, Jasannah is so long, she gets tips, she’s active in rebounds, Molly is the same thing and she’s tall and Marissa is very strong down there, and tonight it helped us.”
While Sandusky’s struggled inside, Ross used a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Brooklyn Baptista to take a 43-36 lead the fourth quarter. Senior Olivia Baptista left the game in the third quarter after suffering a blow to the back of the head/neck area. While she returned in the fourth quarter, Brooklyn Baptista took over for the Lady Giants. She finished with 16 points with three assists.
“When older sister gets hurt and (Brooklyn) can tell she’s hurting, as a ball player, you get that extra juice, that ‘I can’t let her down.’ I think Brooklyn had a little bit of that tonight.”
But Brooklyn Baptista wasn’t the only one to pick up the slack. Rachel Gore and Mikeaya McLaurin took turns making big plays and scoring important buckets for Ross in the fourth quarter. Gore scored on a nice drive to the basket then added a 3-pointer just 20 seconds later to put Ross’ lead up to 10 with 4:30 to play.
“It seems like the ball finds her at key moments,” Vela said of Gore. “She makes plays. She’s aggressive, in the first quarter or fourth quarter, she’s always trying to get the ball and make big plays.”
Then Sandusky returned to running its offense though Esposito and Burchett and three minutes later, Sandusky finished an 11-0 run to take a 53-52 lead with 90 seconds to go.
But 15 seconds after the Blue Streaks took the lead, McLaurin took it back, scoring on a drive to the basket. Monday saw McLaurin handle the ball as much as at any time throughout the season. Her quickness with the ball gave Ross a much-needed counter to Sandusky’s Esposito and she helped Ross limit its turnovers.
“I think she’s quick and she gets from point A to point B and in two or three dribbles she covers more distance than most of our guards,” Vela said. “We’ve talked about (passing the ball) and she’s started to get being a varsity player. Last year (on junior varsity), we’d give her the ball and she’d drive the lane and shoot every time because she was our best player but on varsity we have other players and other components to our offense that she needs to share the ball, run the plays and think a little bit out there and she’s starting to get accustomed to that.”
With Ross holding a two-point lead, Sandusky put the ball in Esposito’s hands with less than 30 seconds to play where Gore stole the ball cleanly and drew a foul, hitting a free throw to grow the lead to three points with 20 seconds to play. While Sandusky scored with seven seconds to play, the Lady Giants held firm to increase their record to 9-8 overall on the season.
In addition to Brooklyn Baptista’s 16 points, Gore finished with 12 points and McLaurin added 10.
Due to the arctic blast coming this week, the Lady Giants’ game scheduled for Thursday at St. Ursula has been postponed to Saturday, beginning at 11 a.m.
Fremont Ross 58, Sandusky 55
S| 13—14—9—19 55
FR| 16—10—17—15 58
Burchett 18, Esposito 27, Miller 6, Glover 2, Randleman 2.
FREMONT ROSS (58)
Brooklyn Baptista 16, Olivia Baptista 5, Rachel Gore 12, Jasannah Sabiers 4, Marissa Overmyer 5, Molly Mies 4, Mikeaya McLaurin 10, Kennedy Bohannan 2.
Fremont Ross 42, Sandusky 34
S| 6—5—16—2 34
FR| 11—10—9—12 42
Keahey-Beckum 2, Albrycht 7, Ralofsky 2, Page 13, Matthews 6, Henson 4.
FREMONT ROSS (42)
Sarah Widman 4, Rebecca Holland 9, Hannah Sheidler 9, MaKenna Englund 11, Camryn Kidwell 11.