January 4th, 2012
Collins Hangs On To Top Presentation 64-59
Toppers can't overcome Cardwell's 30 points, Titan FTs
Despite a 30-point performance from Collins senior Leeara Cardwell and a 21-free throw differential, the Presentation Academy basketball team still found itself with a chance to win on Wednesday night against the visiting Lady Titans, but eventually succumbed to Collins 64-59 in an out-of-region matchup.
The Toppers, which trailed by as many as nine points in the fourth quarter, battled down the stretch and got back-to-back 3-pointers from senior Ashlee Kirchner and sophomore Aliyah Johnson to cut Collins' advantage to 63-59 with 17.5 seconds remaining, but the Lady Titans got a key offensive rebound from Aaliyah Wells on a missed free throw that all but put the game away.
Collins finished the contest 16-of-24 from the charity stripe, while Presentation was a mere 2-of-3. The Toppers didn't attempt a free throw in the second half and settled heavily on the outside shot to keep things close in the second half.
"Part of it is they went to the rim and we didn't," said Presentation head coach David Jackson. "But we continued to battle, so that was good."
Forced to use a somewhat disjointed lineup during the course of the game, Jackson had to overcome Reeder and Kirchner's foul trouble and then an ankle injury that forced Toppers senior and leading scorer Shelby Adams to the bench for most of the third quarter. Adams would eventually return, but Collins took advantage of her absence with a 13-7 run and took control of the game.
Adams scored six of her team-high 17 points in the fourth period, but was continuously countered by Collins' Cardwell. The Lady Titans guard played with a swagger during all 32 minutes and scored at least four points in each quarter. She scored 10 in the fourth quarter including a 5-of-8 performance from the free throw line to help Collins maintain its late leads.
"I was worried when she limped off; I thought she was done (for the game)," said Jackson of Adams. "But it's a credit to her to gut it out and get back out there. She's one of our top scorers so we need her on the floor."
Pres owned a 26-25 halftime lead after Adams' offensive rebound and putback with nine seconds left in the second quarter gave the Toppers momentum going into the locker room. After the aforementioned run by Collins in the third quarter, Presentation fought back when Johnson's first long ball pulled her squad within 51-47 of Collins with 3:53 remaining.
Then, with 2:06 to go, Reeder stepped into the passing lane, swiped one of her three steals and broke free for a wide open layup to keep Presentation within 56-51. Reeder scored again 39 seconds later when Adams set a screen in the lane, allowing Reeder to hit the runner and cut the Lady Titans' lead to 56-53.
Presentation forced another loose ball on Collins' ensuing possession, but a jump ball tie-up was eventually called and the Lady Titans kept the ball on its side of the court, which led to free throws by Rebecca Mouser and a 58-53 lead for Collins. The Toppers would never get closer than four points the rest of the way.
With the senior trio of Adams, Reeder and Kirchner playing scattered minutes, Presentation got some crucial minutes and contributions from junior Meredith Degner (14 points and 6 rebounds), Johnson (8 points) and junior Peyton Andres (5 points).
Reeder (9) and Kirchner (6) did managed to combine for 16 points, 7 rebounds and three 3-pointers.
"We finally hit some shots which was good because we've been struggling so much from the floor, but our biggest problem was beating (Collins') 1-2-2 trap early on," said Jackson. "But once we got settled in and got the ball to the middle, we got some nice shots and we were able to hit a couple. We got some good minutes off the bench."
Presentation has become accustomed to playing in close affairs. Out of 14 games played this season the Toppers have been in five games where the final margin was five points or less. So will playing such tight contests ultimately be beneficial for Pres?
"I hope it is. We just have to learn to win one here and there pretty soon," said Jackson. "But they're getting better at it and understanding what needs to be done towards the last part of the game. We got some quick shots there at the end, which is what we needed since we were down. But we're learning. We've got five seniors that are playing a lot, so we need to learn a little quicker."
"We just need to get over the hump against one of these good teams and get a little confidence built for us."
Presentation (7-7), which finished as runner-up in last week's Floyd Central Highlander Lady Classic in Indiana, travels to Lloyd Memorial and Beechwood Friday and Saturday and returns home Dec. 10 for a showdown with Central.
Collins moved to 12-3 on the season and returns home to host Anderson County and Woodford County this weekend.