Elmore electric as H-L escapes against Columbian

Sophomore scores 31, grabs 17 rebounds as Chieftains move to 10-2

PHOTO BY PAT GAIETTO Hopewell-Loudon’s MaKayla Elmore drives to the basket as Columbian’s Serena Ingalls looks on Saturday in Bascom.

BASCOM — MaKayla Elmore did a little bit of everything Saturday.

Actually, strike that.

Hopewell-Loudon’s star sophomore did a lot of everything.

With nine seconds left in regulation and the Chieftains leading Columbian 41-39, Elmore had 29 points, 17 rebounds, six steals, and four blocks.

But now, with the Tornadoes poised to have one more possession to tie or perhaps win the game, Elmore had one more act.

She stepped in front of a TC pass, stole it, then charged toward the basket for a game clinching layup.

It was a terrific display for Elmore, who scored all but one of her team’s 17 second-half points.

“Oh, she’s a player,” Hopewell-Loudon coach Bob Gase said after his team improved to 10-2. “I mean, all the kids played hard. Everybody — for the most part — everybody did their job and followed the game plan.”

Hope Kreais had six points and eight rebounds for H-L, and Abbe Beidelschies had seven rebounds.

The Chieftains dominated rebounding in the first half, and grabbed a 26-17 lead at the break.

Columbian coach Erin Reed wasn’t pleased.

“I think our first half effort is what killed us,” she said. “I was telling them, it wasn’t even really basketball skills, it was effort. We were getting out-rebounded by more than double.”

Things changed in the second half. Reed thought the effort picked up, and Columbian got back into the game.

Abby Dryfuse — on her way to a 12-point performance — contributed two layups, bringing TC within 28-23. Hannah Cooper added a bucket, and Columbian pulled within 30-26 when Kaia Woods found Brook Boes for a short jumper. That score held until the end of the third.

Meanwhile, H-L managed just a pair of Elmore buckets in the quarter, and shot 2 of 14. They went through a stretch (which extended into the fourth quarter) where they missed 12 consecutive shots.

“Sometimes when things get a little tight (we) wander away from what I want into what they want,” Gase said. “We didn’t adjust to what they did defensively in the third quarter. That hurt us a little bit.”

The Tornadoes started the fourth on an 8-2 run. Woods tied the game at 32 with a short jumper at the 3:50 mark, then TC gained its first lead since the first quarter when Dryfuse hit a tiebreaking layup on the next possession.

But Elmore answered with a three-point play, then added another layup with 2:10 left to put the Chieftains up 37-34.

Woods hit two free throws on TC’s ensuing possession, and Elmore came back with another layup.

With the clock winding under a minute and TC down 39-36, Serena Ingalls hit her only basket of the game — a 3 from the wing — to tie the game.

Again, H-L got the ball to Elmore, and she was fouled. She split her foul shots.

After Columbian failed to score on its next possession, Woods fouled Elmore with 12.7 seconds left. The officials ruled the foul intentional. Reed disagreed with the call, which gave Elmore two shots

“Kaia went for the ball; everybody knows that rule,” Reed said.

It became a crucial ruling when Elmore missed both free throws.

“Then it’s our ball (if it was a regular foul),” Reed said. “That could have changed it.”

Instead, the Tornadoes were forced to foul Olivia Zender, who made one of two foul shots to extend the H-L lead to 41-39 with nine seconds left.

Elmore’s steal and basket ended the game.

But not the dramatics. Woods launched a long, desperation shot. It went in.

But it didn’t count. Officials ruled the attempt came after the buzzer.

Woods finished with 12 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals. Ingalls had 10 rebounds

The Tornadoes fell to 5-5.

Reed was asked about her team going up against Elmore.

“We did a lot of things in practice to defend her this week,” she said. “I was hoping it would go a little bit differently, but she’s a really good player.

“I even told the girls in there, we’re gonna take that effort in the second half, and that’s what you have to run with the rest of the year,” Reed said.

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