HARROD – It’s been a work in progress this season for both the Allen East and Waynesfield-Goshen girls basketball programs.
With just one senior on the Allen East roster and three on the Waynesfield-Goshen roster, a great deal of the focus has been on the development of the underclassmen.
However, in Monday’s nonconference matchup between these two teams, it came down to the play of Allen East senior Tori Newland that made the difference in the end.
Newland stepped up and made plays late in the game to help lead Allen East to a hard-fought 49-44 victory over visiting Waynesfield-Goshen.
The 5-foot-11 Newland led Allen East (4-13) with 20 points, including 5 of 6 shooting from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. She also pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds and had three steals. Coming into Monday’s game, Newland needed 27 points to reach the 1,000-point scoring mark for her high school career.
Freshman Kennedy Truex scored 14 points, had five rebounds and two steals for Allen East. Another freshman, Elle Richardson, added 13 points, five boards, three steals and two assists for the Mustangs.
“We talked at halftime that we needed to increase our ball pressure and try to turn them over a little bit. … We ended up doing that,” Allen East coach Dana Koontz said. “We did turn it over more than I would have liked, but we’re very young and those things will happen. Luckily, we made enough plays to get the win.”
For the game, Allen East turned the ball over 22 times. W-G turned it over 24 times.
Jordan Elliot led Waynesfield-Goshen (4-15) and all scorers with 24 points, including 12 of 17 shooting from the free throw line. Elliot also had two 3-pointers. Teammate Madilynn Flinn scored 12 points and had four steals.
The game was knotted twice, before Allen East finally slipped out with a 12-8 lead by the first stop. Truex paced the Mustangs with six points.
Waynesfield-Goshen was just 3 of 11 shooting from the field in the first quarter. Allen East was 5 of 15 from the floor.
Waynesfield-Goshen battled back.
With 3:09 left to play in the first half, the Tigers claimed the lead, 17-16, on a 3-pointer by Flinn, her second trey of the half. Flinn led all scorers in the first half with 12 points. Flinn was a perfect 3 of 3 from the floor in the second quarter.
But the Mustangs responded.
In the final seconds of the first half, Newland scored on a put back to give Allen East a slim 1-point advantage, 23-22, as the two teams headed into the halftime break.
Newland led the Mustangs in the first half with 11 points, eight of those coming in the second quarter.
Both teams pushed the pace in the second half.
The lead changed hands three times in the third quarter before the score was knotted at 33 by the third stop.
Both teams turned it over in the third. Allen East turned the ball over eight times, while W-G had seven miscues.
Elliot scored seven third-quarter points for the Tigers.
Allen East’s largest lead in the fourth quarter was four points.
The Tigers would not falter.
With 1:30 left to play in regulation, Elliot canned a 3-pointer to cut the Allen East lead to 1, 41-40.
However, Allen East was able to hold off W-G in the final minute and secure the win.
Koontz was pleased at how his two freshmen, Truex and Richardson, took advantage of their opportunities Monday night.
“They did enough to help Tori (Newland) out tonight,” Koontz said. “They had a lot of open shots, too. They (W-G) were in a little box-and-one on Tori, which opened it up for the other girls on the team to make some shots; and fortunately, they made some shots. It was good to see.”
For the game, Allen East shot 35 percent from the field. W-G countered with 33-percent shooting.
Allen East held the slight edge on the boards, 34-31.
In the final eight minutes, Allen East was 11 of 16 from the charity stripe.
“They did a great job down the stretch to make some key free throws,” Koontz said. “So, to be able to finish off the game was great.”