The Mark Twain girls’ basketball team was eliminated from the consolation bracket of the 88th Annual Monroe City Basketball Tournament Wednesday night after losing to South Shelby 52-43.
“The girls are disappointed,” Mark Twain girls’ basketball caoch Alex Brandeburg said. “One of our goals this year was to be playing for a trophy in every tournament and we let that go. No one wants to be two and done in a tournament.”
The Lady Tigers won the opening tipoff and scored first on a three-pointer from Maygan Huff, but quickly fell behind 9-5. Mark Twain tied the game at 9-9 with 1:38 left in the first quarter, but after South Shelby took the lead with 17 seconds left in the first quarter, the Lady Tigers would trail for the remainer of the game. When the first quarter ended, Mark Twain (1-4) trailed South Shelby 11-10.
“We had a lot of shots in the first quarter we probably should have made,” Brandenburg said. “I would have still liked a better start, but the girls played well in the first quarter. But, we have yet to put it together for four quarters with the exception of our first game.”
The Lady Cardinals opened the second quarter with a 12-4 run and went on to outscore the Lady Tigers 14-6 during the second quarter of play. South Shelby (2-3) took a 25-16 lead into the intermission.
“We can’t come in and have slow starts,” Brandenburg said. “We can’t afford that. Tonight we kind of just showed up. We weren’t ready to play from the start.”
Mark Twain junior Mackenzie Grossman wasn’t pleased with how the team played in the second qaurter.
“We had our heads in the game and we were doing good (in the first quarter),” Grossman said. “We were playing hard and then I think we just laid back a little bit and we don’t need to be doing that. We need to keep playing hard the whole game.”
Mark Twain came out of the break shooting and the Lady Tigers outscored South Shelby 11-7 to cut into the lead. But it wasn’t enough. When the third quarter ended, Mark Twain trailed 32-27.
A quick three-pointer from Alicia Cole to open the final quarter of play, cut the deficit to 32-30, but the Lady Tigers would get no closer.
“We fought back late,” Brandenburg said. “We got out there and the girls got after it. These girls are going to work hard no matter what, but tonight it was just too little, too late.”
While both teams would score 27 points in the second half, South Shelby outscored Mark Twain 20-16 over the final eight minutes of play.
“We got that spark back (in the second half),” Grossman said. “For a while, we did really well. Then at the end we just lost out.”
Kayla Palmer finished with 10 points to lead the Lady Tigers in scoring. Grossman and Huff each contributed 9 points while Kyley Barnes chipped in 8 points off the bench.
“I want us to be spread out like that,” Brandenburg said. “Offensively, we scored more tonight than we have our last few games. We just have to look to be more aggressive basketball players.”
Grossman just missed finishing the night with a double-double. In addition to her 9 points, she also pulled down a game-high 9 rebounds. Grossman recorded four blocked shots and three steals for Mark Twain.
“I like blocking people’s shots,” Grossman said. “I shot a lot and I should have made a lot more of those baskets that I shot. That would have helped my team a lot, but they didn’t really fall for me tonight.
Of Grossman’s 9 points, two were buckets while the other five points came from the free throw line.
While the Lady Tigers were outscored, they did manage to outrebound South Shelby by close to a two-to-one margin. Mark Twain finished the game with 35 rebounds while South Shelby had 21.
South Shelby’s Cassidy Johnston scored 11 points in the fourth quarter with seven of them coming at the free throw line.
“The Johnston girl had a great game,” Brandenburg said. “She is a really good ball player. A player like that, when they get hot, we have got to find her.”
For the night, Johnston finished with a game-high 23 points for the Lady Cardinals. She was also 13-of-15 from the charity stripe. Kellie Harvey hit three treys and finished with 18 points for South Shelby.
With the loss, Mark Twain is eliminated from the tournament. South Shelby will move on to the consolation championship game on Friday. The Lady Cardinals will play the winner of tonight’s game featuring Louisiana and Paris.