By Lucas Rains
WALKER – The Mona Shores girls basketball team entered the 2014-15 season without definite lack of experience, after losing 75 percent of its scoring and rebounding to graduation.
But the Sailors exceeded everyone’s expectations by tying for the championship in the tough O-K Black Conference and winning a Class A district title.
Unfortunately for the Sailors, the end of the road came Tuesday, when they fell behind early and dropped a 50-43 decision to Forest Hills Central in the regional tournament opener at Kenowa Hills High School.
Mona Shores finished the season with a 20-4 record.
“We had a great season and I’m proud of the kids, the seniors especially,” said Mona Shores Coach Brad Kurth. “It was an exciting ride. Four losses was not my expectation. Nobody expected us to be good in the first place, so I’m just really proud of the kids.”
The Sailors struggled to get going offensively in the first half Tuesday and trailed 26-11 at halftime. Forest Hills Central led by as many as 16 points in the second half, but a late push by Mona Shores brought the score within single digits in the final minutes.
Mona Shores outscored the Rangers 27-24 in the second half, but the big halftime hole proved to be too much for the Sailors.
“The hardest thing in the tournament, is when you lose, you want to lose playing your best,” Kurth said. “This was not the team that I saw play all year. We weren’t on a mission today and Forest Hills Central was, so you have to give them credit.”
The opening quarter saw little scoring, but Forest Hills Central took the lead for good with a 7-0 run before the buzzer.
Mona Shores’ Jordan Walker tallied her team’s only four points in the second quarter, while the Rangers poured in 17 and took control of the game. Forest Hills Central ended the first half on an 11-0 run.
The Sailors finally started to click offensively midway through the third quarter. Josalin Sanders-Walker connected on back-to-back three pointers for Mona Shores, which cut into the Rangers’ lead.
The Rangers led 39-25 after three quarters.
But Forest Hills Central kept up with the Sailors on offense and led 39-25 after three quarters.
The Sailors opened the fourth quarter on a 9-3 run, which was capped by Sanders-Walker’s third triple of the game. The shot brought Mona Shores within eight points with 4:45 to play.
But the Rangers scored the next six points to end any drama.
Sanders-Walker led the Sailors with 13 points and Walker finished with eight.
The Rangers had three players in double figures, with Sophia Sanfillippo scoring 14 points, Brittany Bowen added 13 and Rhea Thornton had 10.