The Mark Twain girls basketball team withstood a second-half rally by Canton for a 56-49 win Tuesday night.
The Mark Twain girls basketball team watched its lead against Canton dwindle to four points with three minutes left Tuesday night, prompting coach Alex Brandenburg to call a full timeout.
Brandenburg gave crunch-time instructions to his players.
“We looked at each other, and it kind of felt like a situation where the girls wanted to play keep away and let the clock run out,” Brandenburg said. “We just talked and said we still have to attack and be aggressive.”
Mark Twain (7-10) took the message to heart.
Senior point guard McKenzie Lathrom drained a pair of free throws directly out of the timeout before senior forward Amber Ferry scored from close range to put Mark Twain ahead 51-45 with 1 minute, 44 seconds left.
Freshman Emma Ross followed with another bucket, and Mark Twain never looked back to secure a 56-49 victory.
“Even when bad things happened, we kept going and kept fighting,” said Lathrom, who finished with a team-high 32 points, eight rebounds and six steals. “We made it up on defense and then went down and scored. I knew we just had to keep going and we could keep the lead.”
Sophomore Mackenzie Ogle opened the fourth quarter with a conventional 3-point play to give Mark Twain a 40-31 advantage. Lathrom connected for a three with 5:41 left to go up by 10 points — the visitors' biggest lead of the night.
But Mark Twain's strong start to the final period didn't completely knock Canton (5-14) out.
Tegan Burbridge scored five points in 36 seconds to ignite an 8-2 run for the hosts to cut their deficit to 47-43.
“It was kind of frustrating,” Ogle said of how Canton wouldn't go away. “But we just had to get back on D and keep our heads up, and I think we did that.”
Mark Twain, which forced 22 turnovers, got scoring from six players.
Paige Eddington and Ogle recorded eight points a piece and grabbed eight and five rebounds, respectively.
“We knew we needed a big team effort,” Brandenburg said. “We knew what McKenzie (Lathrom) is going to do and what she's capable of for us, and if we get the other four girls to contribute and do what they're capable of, we're a hard team to defend.”
Freshmen Zoe Miller and Ross each scored two points and played significant minutes in the win.
“I was proud of the way our freshmen played, especially in a high-pressure situation with some pretty big, athletic girls,” Brandenburg said. “Zoe gave us great minutes, and Emma did a great job down the stretch for us. They're X-factors for us.”
Lathrom scored 10 of Mark Twain's 12 points in the first quarter as the visitors took a 12-10 lead.
Olivia Jarvis hit a 3-pointer to put Canton ahead 15-14 with 6:29 left until halftime before Mark Twain went on an 11-2 run to take a 25-17 cushion into the intermission.
“Going into the game, we knew Canton was a talented team that played hard,” Brandenburg said. “I'm glad we were able to get the start we had because that allowed us an opportunity to hold the lead almost the whole game.”
Mark Twain led for all but one minute and did just enough to withstand a comeback bid.
Abby Jarvis led Canton with 14 points.