Tournament competition can be a slippery slope, as can playing from behind, but that's the hand the North Callaway varsity girls basketball team was dealt Saturday in game one of the Gary Filbert Classic at Mexico against Paris.
Lady Coyotes 6-foot-4 reserve Tori Hamilton didn't make it any easier for the Ladybirds by scoring nine in the first quarter and 15 for the game to help her team take an 18-9 lead at the end of the first quarter. While North Callaway was able to use Allie Schluetter's 19 points to make it a 27-21 contest at halftime, Paris was able to go back up 41-32 in the third before finally claiming the game 50-39.
"We had to change defenses later because they eventually exposed some weaknesses in our man-to-man. After we made the switch our defense improved. We at least slowed them down," said Paris coach Garrett Thomas. "(Schluetter) got hot for them. We had to adjust to her, but I was happy with how we rebounded. On offense they gave us a bit of trouble towards the middle of the second quarter and some of the third, but we wanted to get the ball inside and when we did we got what we wanted."
In that opening session the Lady Coyotes took an 8-6 advantage at 2:46 just after Hamilton's initial score. She then posted her teams next five points against a three-pointer for the Ladybird's Kyla Bertschinger to widen the gap to 13-9 at 1:18. That led to Hamilton and Grace Peak combining for Paris' final five points of the quarter, and in that same time North Callaway went scoreless, which is exactly why it was down nine heading into the second.
"Hamilton has really improved. Last year she was about the same size she is now," Thomas said. "She's really tall, and when you grow that fast that quick there's just some catching up you have to do regarding coordination. Last season was a learning process, but this year she's doing really well. She's one of our strengths and now other teams have to gameplan for that because there aren't that many girls playing Class 2 ball that have her height."
North Callaway, 4-4 overall, also got four assists from Kenzie Ausfhal. Paris, on the other hand, is now 6-3 overall and was fortunate enough to get 11 points from Allison Moore, as well.
"In the third quarter we played our style of basketball, and we did well. In the fourth quarter Paris switched to a zone defens, and while that shouldn't be an issue for us, offensively we never got anything going," said North Callaway coach Morgan Beamer. "Schluetter did an excellent job shooting fo us tonight and the rest of the team did a good job recognizing that and getting her the ball. She was hot and they kept feeding her, which is exactly what they're supposed to do."