Girls basketball: East Ridge upends Ponies

Stillwater’s Haley Balzart puts up a shot from close range during the first half of Tuesday’s Suburban East Conference girls’ basketball game against East Ridge at Stillwater Area High School. (Gazette staff photo by Scott Ertle)

Stillwater’s Haley Balzart puts up a shot from close range during the first half of Tuesday’s Suburban East Conference girls’ basketball game against East Ridge at Stillwater Area High School. (Gazette staff photo by Scott Ertle)

OAK PARK HEIGHTS — In a game of runs, it was East Ridge that delivered the final blow while pulling away for a 40-33 Suburban East Conference girls’ basketball victory over the Ponies on Tuesday at Stillwater Area High School.

The Ponies (1-9 SEC, 4-13) overcame an early 13-4 deficit with a strong push to close out the first half on a 11-1 run to carry a one-point lead into halftime. Stillwater stretched the lead to 27-20 in the second half before the Raptors (3-7, 8-8) stepped up the pressure to retake and extend the lead in the final minutes.

“They changed what they did and extendd their pressure and we kind of played as if we’ve never seen a defnese like this before,” Stillwater coach Gerard Coury said.

The Ponies played solid defense themselves, but are scoring a league-low 39.8 points per game and that proved costly again on Tuesday.

“We turned it up defensively and really pressured them and turned them over the whole game,” Coury said. “After that slow start, we really cranked it up defensively and pressured them. If we give up 40 points a game I’m happy — 40 points is pretty good, now the challenge for us is we have to be able to score more than 40.”

East Ridge’s Jamie Swenson led all scorers with 19 points while Paige Becker and Haley Balzart scored 11 and nine points to lead the Ponies.

“I thought we ran our offense really well,” Coury said. “We got a lot of shots in the paint, but didn’t convert enough. (Haley and Paige) did a nice job rebounding.”

It might be harder to see while in the midst of a four-game losing streak, but Coury said the team is improving. The previous game against East Ridge was a 16-point loss in mid-December.

“We’re getting better and we’ve improved significantly, but we still have a long ways to go,” the coach said.

 

East Ridge 14 26 — 40

Stillwater 15 18 — 33

 

East Ridge (pts): Amanda Robinson 4, Courtney Keefe 3, Brianna Walker 2, Hannah Pignato 11, Sarah Griffith 1 and Jamie Swanson 19.

Stillwater: Annie Lauber 3, Natalie Johnson 2, Larissa Colvin 6, Rilee Day 2, Haley Balzart 9 and Paige Becker 11.

3-pointers: ER, NA: ; St, 3.

Free throws: ER, NA; St, 9-16.

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