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Lady Knights bury Eagles early in league win
MARYSVILLE — Short-staffed, the Grace Academy girls basketball team enjoyed the first lead of their game at Highland Christian.
But after leading 4-2, the Lady Eagles stumbled for about 10 minutes, seemingly flustered by an aggressive Knights defense that grabbed jump balls and forced steals at will. During that time, Highland Christian scored 14 unanswered points, a combined 12 from senior Chelsey Graber and freshman Sarah Tummler who led the Knights to a 41-25 home court win Jan. 13.
It was the second meeting between the teams in less than a week.
"Compared to Saturday," said Highland Christian coach Steve Brown, whose team won that meeting 36-35, "we were able to secure the middle a little more."
This meeting also featured the return of Tummler, who has emerged as the Knights' point guard this season. Tummler ended the night with eight points and seven steals. She was second in team output to Graber, who had a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds. She matched Tummler's seven steals.
Trailing by 17 at the half, Grace put together a nice comeback in the third quarter. The girls resisted the Knights' press tried turning their defense under the basket into foul shots. Freshman Kendall Likes, who led the Eagle offense, reeled off three unanswered field goals to narrow the Knights' lead. Post Lauren Krumm capped off the nine-point run, bringing Grace within 10 points of the home team.
A pair of baskets by Likes on a one-and-one late early in the first quarter cut the lead down to nine, but Grace never got any closer. Teammates Chelsey Graber and Kaila Graber closed strong against Grace from there, scoring eight of the last nine points.
Grace coach Rick Holt attributed some of his team's woes to the relative inexperience of the players on the court. Three starters were on the bench all game.
"We moved the ball well," said Brown. "I think our passing is what did us well tonight."