A turnover-plagued first quarter kept the Galion Lady Tigers basketball team from their first Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference Red Division win of the season.
Fairbanks handed Galion a 51-42 loss on the Panthers’ home floor.
Galion turned the ball over nine times in the quarter, while allowing 13 Fairbanks points and only scoring four.
Galion girls basketball head coach Nick Vukovich tried to settle the team, calling a timeout after the Lady Tigers went down 6-0. Vukovich huddled his squad and challenged them to “pick up the intensity, we’re way too flat.”
Senior Taylor Valentine came out and scored four of her game high 11 points in the opening quarter. She also hauled down three rebounds.
Galion picked up their play on both ends of the floor following their initial setback, playing the Panthers even for the next three quarters.
“I thought today was the best I’ve seen it (the intensity) all year, especially quarters two through four,” Vukovich said. “I thought we played extremely hard.”
The Lady Tigers protected the basketball and reduced its turnovers in the second quarter as they went into the locker room down 21-13 at the half. Galion pulled down six rebounds and forced five Fairbanks turnovers in their comeback effort.
Galion continued to rally in the second half. A pair of free throws and a layup off a steal by junior point guard Jamie Ehrman cut the Panthers lead to 21-17. Ehrman was playing in her third game following time off due to an injury. Her return off the bench sparked the Tigers.
“Ehrman gives us another scoring option, it’s not just about Taylor (Valentine) and Robin (Barnes), and it helps out,” Vukovich said.
Junior guard Lauren Huggins 3-point basket made the score 22-20 halfway through the third quarter, but that was as close as the Lady tigers would get.
Only two points ahead, Fairbanks intensified their effort. The Panthers outscored Galion 17-12 through the remainder of the quarter, connecting on a pair of 3-point shots and shooting four of eight from the foul line.
The fourth quarter saw both teams transition down the floor as there were 14 scoring possessions. Galion outscored Fairbanks in the last period of play 13-12, but they were unable to overcome the 10-point deficit, which the Panthers had built.
“We started off slow and that was the difference in the game, like the last time we played them. We didn’t play to our potential in the first quarter and that was the difference,” Vukovich said.
The Lady Tigers got more open looks on shots and were effective in breaking the press. Vukovich admitted that effort in practice is beginning to pay off during games.
“We worked on the girls to shoot more, to be ready to shoot. I thought we did a great job of driving and getting the ball to open people, sometimes shots fall and sometimes they don’t,” he said. “We worked on the press and the girls did it very well, we executed as best a s we can.”
Fairbanks had 10 players in the scoring column. Logan Stigham, Lauren Kocsis and Bailey Beddow each scored eight points to pace the Panthers.
For Galion, in addition to Valentine’s 14 point effort, Ehrman added 10 and Lauren Huggins totaled six points.
Galion (0-10, 4-12) will face North Union at home on Jan 23.