On paper, the Mark Twain girls’ basketball team was supposed to win Friday night. The Lady Tigers came into the game with more wins and were seeded higher than Highland. But regardless of what was supposed to happen, it was Highland that came out on top Friday night as the Lady Cougars beat the Lady Tigers 49-37 in the consolation championship of the 70th Annual Tony Lenzini Basketball Tournament in Palmyra.
“They took the loss pretty hard,” Mark Twain coach Alex Brandenburg said. “We felt this is a game we could have won if we came out and played hard.”
Mark Twain fell behind right from the get go and never recovered.
“We kind of came out with a slow start,” Brandenburg said. “Highland played a heck of a game tonight. They worked hard and they beat us up on the board. They forced us to make bad passes and make bad plays. You can’t dig out of every hole like we did earlier this week. We have to come out and be ready to play right from the start.”
Highland outscored Mark Twain 10-6 in the first quarter. In the second quarter, Highland increased its lead when the Lady Cougars outscored Mark Twain again, this time by a 14-8 margin. Highland went into the break with a 24-14 lead. Part of the Lady Tiger’s problem was turnovers. Several drives ended when Highland stole the ball or forced Mark Twain to committ a foul.
“We weren’t taking care of the ball,” Brandenburg said. “We were making simple mistakes.”
Nothing changed in the second half as Highland remained ahead of the Lady Tigers. Mark Twain kept the score closer (13-11) in the third quarter, but Highland continued to increase its lead.
Heading into the final eight minutes of play, Mark Twain trailed Highland 37-25. The two teams matched each other point for point in the final quarter, but Highland had a commanding lead.
“There is no quit in these girls,” Brandenburg said. “They want to win, they want to play, and they want to be here. I give them that, they bring it every game. We just need to be able to put it togteher for four quarters.”
Mark Twain junior Mackenzie Grossmann just barely missed her second triple-double of the tournament. Grossmann had a game-high 13 points while also pulling down 9 rebounds and blocking 9 shots.
Kyley Barnes was the only other Lady Tiger to score in double figures. Coming in off the bench, Barnes finished the night with 10 points and 5 boards. Kayla Palmer turned in 8 points and 4 rebounds while Maygan Huff finished with 4 points.
“Kyley is always capable of scoring,” Brandenburg said. “She has just got to look to get to the basket and look to make plays. Sometimes she is too unselfish at times. You hate to say that and it’s hard to say, but that is the role we like her in. She is the energy we need off the bench.”
Page 2 of 2 - With the loss, mark Twain falls to 3-12 on the season. The Lady Tigers won’t have much time to recover from the tournament though as they start play in the Bowling Green Invitational on Monday with a matchup against Clopton.