The E-gals’ slow start came back to bite them in the end, as they couldn’t break through the Bearettes fullcourt pressure and fell 42-31.
Both teams got off to a slow start, but it was Apollo’s two-point effort in the first that had them trailing going into the second. However, the E-gals defense had held their own and limited Butler’s offense to trail 11-2 at the end of the first.
Apollo was able to get a couple of nice buckets off of post moves from junior Jennifer Lee, but the Bearettes fullcourt pressure and zone was still giving them fits. As a result, the E-gals found themselves trailing 22-10 going into halftime.
The E-gals caught some steam offensively coming out the locker room though, using an 11-0 run after a couple of baskets by Butler to cut their deficit to 26-22 with just under four minutes to go in the third. But in an effort to quickly tie the game before the third came to a close, a pair of Apollo turnovers—something they struggled with losing eight as a team on the night—led to four straight points from the Bearettes to extend their lead to 30-22 going into the fourth.
The E-gals luck didn’t change much in the fourth quarter, as they were never able to bring the lead within a one-possession game and ultimately fell 42-31. Assistant Coach Bobby Ewing wasn’t happy with how Apollo started, but was proud of their response in the second half despite the end result.
“Our first half, we’re just such a young team that they’re just not used to the pressure,” Ewing said. “But I thought in the second half they tried to handle the pressure more and defensively and rebounding I thought we did very well as opposed to the start of the season.”
Ewing was proud of the way Apollo defended though, noting that forcing Butler to be a perimeter-oriented team was what allowed them to give themselves a chance to win despite the slow start.
“I thought making them shoot jump shots instead of just giving them layups was [big],” Ewing said. “I thought we packed it in really well, because we knew they were good on the boards. I thought if we could hold them one shot we would have a shot. We cut it to four one time, but it got away after that.”
Junior Keziah Bradley led all scorers on the night with 11 points for the Bearettes, while sophomores Anieja Russell and Makayla Alexander finished with nine and eight respectively. Freshman Kennedy Lane led the E-gals with nine points on the night, while Lee followed with eight points and seven rebounds.
Lee was a key part of the rotation a season ago, but they will look to her and junior Jenna Dant—who finished with five points and nine rebounds in the game—for even more crucial minutes this year.
“We’re looking to Jennifer and Jenna [for a lot],” Ewing said. “To have two bigs in this region would be very helpful because a lot of people play guard heavy. So I think those two can impact the game just being big and rebounding.”
Apollo falls to 0-3 to start the season with the loss, but will have Head Coach Natalie Payne back on the sidelines in its next matchup after completing her three-game suspension that was issued because of her ejection last year in the 3rd Region Tournament. They’ll play in their fourth straight road game on Tuesday against Webster County at 7 p.m., as Ewing said the E-gals are eager to get in the win column and know that hard work outside of games mentally and physically will be key.
“Just not being satisfied with the way you play everyday in practice,” Ewing said. “Just work on things in practice that we’re not doing in the game. [Focus on the ] fundamentals and then just don’t get used to losing. Losing is not fun.”