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Ringgold girls fall in OT

| Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Ringgold's Bailey Cooper fires a pass over West Mifflin's Alyssa Cairns (left) and Marissa Panfil.
Rich Downer | For The Valley Independent
Ringgold's Bailey Cooper fires a pass over West Mifflin's Alyssa Cairns (left) and Marissa Panfil.

Ringgold managed just 10 points in the first half of Thursday's Section 4-AAA girls' basketball game against West Mifflin.

But a huge second half flipped the script, and West Mifflin needed some last-second magic to reach overtime before topping Ringgold, 47-42.

“I was absolutely furious after that first half,” Ringgold coach Laura Grimm said. “I lost my temper a little bit. But basically, what we told them was that we don't need to make any adjustments — they were giving us everything we want. But we couldn't hit a shot; we couldn't execute a play; we couldn't make a free throw.”

As poor as Ringgold (4-2, 1-2) performed in the first half, it seemed West Mifflin (4-2, 1-1) played just the opposite. Ringgold continually tried to get the ball deep to 6-6 center Marlena Schmidt, but it frequently resulted in turnovers or missed shots that West Mifflin turned into points off transition.

Trailing 26-14 midway through the third quarter, the Lady Rams finished the frame on a 9-0 run as West Mifflin started making mistakes and turning the ball over.

Schmidt was a rebounding machine, and for a few minutes in the third quarter the Lady Rams' Bailey Cooper couldn't miss. Ringgold took the lead with just under five minutes remaining.

“When Leni (Radic) stole the ball and went for that reverse layup, I think that's what really sparked the team,” Grimm said. “Even into the third quarter it seemed we were playing listlessly, halfhearted, but then she sparked us.”

In the final three minutes, Radic gave Ringgold the lead twice, only to have West Mifflin answer each time.

Cooper hit a pair of foul shots with under 30 seconds left to give the Lady Rams a 38-36 lead, only to have West Mifflin's Taylor Thomas hit a fadeaway at the buzzer to send the game to overtime. Cooper finished with a game-high 19 points, while Radic added 8 and Schmidt 7.

“It seemed everybody stepped up, had a big moment during our comeback,” Grimm said. “And that's probably because not one person tried to do it all. Tonight, we just kept telling them just to chip away, just a little at a time. And then finally we just started knocking them down. Eventually the tide had to turn, we could only go o-fer for so long.”

Radic fouled out 1:20 into the overtime period, and West Mifoutscored Ringgold 9-4 to seal the victory. Janelle Persuit finished with a team-high 14 points for West Mifflin, and Thomas added 11.

“These girls are a team that, in the past that hasn't really been in close games before,” Grimm said. “We need to learn how to win close games. We were in a close game the first game of the year against Peters Township and we were fortunate to come out with a win, but tonight there are probably a handful of plays that we wish we could have back. But it's a learning process, and the only way to learn is to experience it hands on.”

Donnie Tasser is a freelance writer.

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