ELMA — An early-season matchup between Aberdeen and Elma saw a few developments that made the Bobcats happy and the Eagles frustrated on Tuesday night.
The Bobcats overcame foul trouble with key contributions from their bench players, while the Eagles were unable to overcome their shooting woes in Aberdeen’s 49-37 non-league girls basketball win at Eagle Gym.
Aberdeen’s Emily Fisher led all scorers with 13 points and was one of three Bobcats in foul trouble throughout the contest. Senior forward Megan Finger led Elma with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
“If you get an early spurt, you can get down by 10 quickly,” AHS head coach Aaron Roiko said. “My bench, as everyone knows, is not very deep. I’ll admit it, but we had girls come off the bench tonight and contribute big. We were in early foul trouble, but there wasn’t a lot of panic and we recovered well, especially in your third game of the season.”
Statistically, the two teams were very close in the first half. Elma (0-2) had 10 more field-goal shots than Aberdeen (3-0) — 7-for-32 for the Eagles; 8-for-22 for the Bobcats — and the same amount of attempts from the free-throw line (13). The difference was one 3-pointer and two free throws more for Aberdeen in a 25-20 halftime lead.
The first half was a rough one for the Bobcats anyway, with Fisher and sophomore post Ericka Manwell in foul trouble and on the bench. Manwell missed most of the first half due to fouls, while Fisher missed most of the first quarter before picking up her third very late in the second. Maxwell and Kiana Dixon would miss action with four fouls in the third quarter.
This forced Aberdeen’s bench into action. Solid play by Lily Walsh in the first half, plus clutch conversions by Rachael Schermer and Tiana Blackburn in the second half, helped the Bobcats.
The Eagles controlled the boards in the first half, forced plenty of turnovers from Aberdeen and pushed the tempo just as fast as they liked. Their shots didn’t fall, however, despite outshooting the visitors by 20 at the end of the contest.
“To shoot 22 percent from the field, including 6 percent from the field in the fourth quarter, that makes it tough on yourself,” Elma head coach Lisa Johnson said. “I have to commend my team for their defensive intensity and effort. We were dominating the boards and we were doing all of the right things. For whatever reason, we weren’t shooting the ball with confidence. That was from the get-go and that carried through the game.”
With the Eagles struggling to convert points, the Bobcats judiciously used spurts to get away from the hosts. After staying close in the first quarter with Fisher and Manwell on the bench, Aberdeen used a second-quarter opening run, led by Mo Donovan, to take a 17-12 lead early on. Donovan scored five of the six points in the spurt on three straight possessions.
A 7-0 spurt to start the third quarter, which included a key 3-point basket by Fisher, put Aberdeen up 30-20. The Bobcats never relinquished the lead, but fended off a few Eagle runs that threatened.
Finger, Miranda McDonald and Brooke Goldsmith converted enough shots, parlayed with good team defense, to keep Elma close in the second. The trio again climbed the Eagles back into the contest in the third. An Ashlyn Malmstrom 3-pointer with 1:23 left in the third trimmed the deficit to 34-32.
Fisher and Finger traded layups at 36-34 before Schermer knocked home a 3-pointer from the wing for a 39-34 lead and an eventual 41-34 third-quarter score.
The fourth quarter was a grinder, with Blackburn pulling down key rebounds and a few put-back baskets to help Aberdeen maintain the lead. Elma shot 1-for-17 (6 percent) from the field in the final frame.
On Friday, Elma stays home to greet Forks in an Evergreen 1A opener. On Tuesday, Aberdeen hosts to take on Black Hills in an Evergreen 2A opener.
Abe 11 14 16 8 — 49 Elma 12 8 14 3 — 37
Aberdeen (49) — Schermer 3, Fisher 13, Timmons 10, Dixon 4, Walsh 2, Manwell 1, Blackburn 4, Donovan 12. FG — 16-43 (.372). FT — 13-22.
Elma (37) — Farrar 2, Wollen 2, Malmstrom 5, Goldsmith 4, McDonald 4, Cristelli 3, Smythe 3, Finger 11, Pacheco, Thompson, Cooper. FG — 13-63 (.206). FT — 9-18.
JV — Elma 47, Aberdeen 28. Aspen Thompson 17 points for Elma.