FRANKLIN FURNACE — Green coach Melissa Knapp had a good feeling when she walked into the high school gym Monday evening.
With her Bobcats set to start their week by hosting Symmes Valley in Southern Ohio Conference action, it was how they ended last week that had her smiling.
“We had a great practice Saturday,” Knapp said. “If we slack in practice and don’t give effort, I can tell you exactly how the game’s going to go. But we were confident coming into today after a good practice.”
Turns out, she’s prophetic.
After ending the third quarter trailing 33-28, the Bobcats (3-6, 3-3 SOC I) used a healthy dose of freshman Kasey Kimbler and sophomore Kame Sweeney to outscore the Vikings by an 18-9 margin in the fourth and pull out a 46-42 victory.
“Kame Sweeney inside. That was the difference,” Knapp said. “We preach that the ball has to go inside. When the ball goes inside, good things happen. Everybody is going to key on [Kasey] Kimbler. That’s what we talked about at halftime. Kame hadn’t touched the ball much and, whether she went up with it or hit the weak side, that was the difference in the second half.”
Sweeney finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds — scoring 11 of her 14 in the second half.
She sealed the deal when teammate Megan Johnson found her under the bucket on an inbounds pass with just 10.3 seconds left in regulation.
“We weren’t going to come in and lay down like we did last year. We were going to come in, work hard and secure this win,” Sweeney said. “Coach really got me fired up [at halftime]. So I just pushed through, focused on the backboard and tried to make all my shots.”
While Sweeney enjoyed the fruits of her labor in the second half, Kimbler did so throughout the night. She ended with a game-high 24 points, a total that included three 3-point field goals.
“We’re a young bunch,” Knapp said. “The biggest thing with our freshmen is adjusting to game speed. Kasey is starting to do that. She’s figuring some things out. She’s a freshman but she’s not playing like one.”
When Sweeney scored with 10 seconds left, it ended a string of five consecutive points from Kimbler … a stretch that also included two steals that led to points in transition.
Kimbler scored seven of her 24 points in the fourth quarter and was almost automatic from the charity stripe, converting on 9-of-11 tries.
“We knew we had to come in, play hard and be ready,” Kimbler said. “My teammates, we’ve been working on moving the ball around. They were looking for me tonight and I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Battle of the boards
While the Vikings (5-3, 3-3 SOC I) held a significant height advantage over Green, Knapp’s bunch still won the rebounding battle, 40-34. Those efforts were led by Sweeney’s 10 but were aided by four other Bobcats that tallied five or more.
“We went to Western [on Dec. 13] and I don’t know the rebounding numbers but they were ugly,” Knapp said. “So we worked on that Saturday and we preach effort, effort, effort. I think that overcame [Symmes Valley’s] size.”
Tale of the tape
Neither team scored until the 5:18 mark in the first quarter when Jenna Malone gave the Vikings a 2-0 lead with two free throws. Kimbler followed suit with 4:41 left, scoring the Bobcats’ first points, before hitting a 3 with 10.5 seconds left to give Green an 8-6 lead after one.
The second quarter, however, belonged to Rachel Hayes and Symmes Valley. The Vikings’ point guard scored 11 of her team-high 15 points in the eight-minute time frame, allowing her team to take a 22-18 advantage into the break.
But that’s when Green buckled down defensively and started to chip away at the lead … specifically late in the game.
“We played better defense in the second half and that’s something we’ve focused on in practice,” Knapp said. “We’ve been trying to get our defense sorted out.”
After entering the fourth down 33-28, Sweeney and Kimbler combined to score 16 of the team’s 18 points in the final quarter, securing the comeback victory down the stretch.
Kimbler added eight rebounds to her 24 points and was followed by Sweeney’s double-double. Charli Blevins ended the night with four points and five boards, Johnson added five rebounds and two assists to the win, and Kimberly Brown chased down seven rebounds.
For Symmes Valley, Hayes finished with 15 points while Taylor Sells had seven points and a team-high nine rebounds. Emily Johnson also chipped in with six points and eight boards.
What’s on tap
Green gets back to action Thursday, traveling to Notre Dame.
The Titans have yet to be beaten. But that doesn’t mean Knapp lacks confidence in her girls.
“Coming off a win, it gives my kids confidence,” she said. “Last year, when you said ‘Notre Dame,’ they were scared to death. I feel good going into this game that they’ll give all they’ve got. Notre Dame is a heck of a ball club. Those kids work hard. We’re going to do our best.”
GIRLS BASKETBALL FINAL: Green 46, Symmes Valley 42.@KaseyKimbler (G): 24 points, 8 rebounds@KameSweeney (G): 14 points, 10 rebounds
R. Hayes (SV): 15 points
T. Sells (SV): 7 points, 9 rebounds#PDTsports pic.twitter.com/ZEscTpFPpM
— Derrick Webb (@dw1509) December 18, 2018
Symmes Valley: 6-16-11-9 — 42
Green: 8-10-10-18 — 46
Symmes Valley: 13-55 FG, 14-21 FT, 2-17 3pt. (Deer 1, Cade 1), 34 rebounds (Sells 9), 16 turnovers, 7 assists (Hayes 3). Scoring: Hayes 15, Sells 7, Johnson 6, Littlejohn 4, Deer 3, Cade 3, Hunter 2, Malone 2.
Green: 15-47 FG, 13-26 FT, 3-13 3pt. (Kimbler 3), 40 rebounds (Sweeney 11), 15 turnovers, 6 assists (Johnson 2). Scoring: Kimbler 24, Sweeney 14, Blevins 4, Brown 2, Johnson 1, Jones 1.