The old saying, “Practice makes perfect” does not always apply.
But, sometimes it comes close.
Just ask the Chatfield girls basketball team.
The Chargers came back from an 18-point deficit in last Tuesday night’s game against Chaparral and almost defeated the Wolverines. In the third quarter, Chatfield came within two and kept up with Chaparral in the fourth. However, the Wolverines pulled away in the final minute for the eventual 65-57 nonleague win.
“We had a terrible practice and were not ready to play,” said Chatfield coach Jeff Mages. “So, I was mad that our preparation wasn’t there. But, on the flip side I’m really proud of the girls’ character. Their effort to battle back was tremendous.
“We could’ve won that game. That’s one of the top teams in the state and a couple of plays here or there down the stretch would’ve given us the win.”
Chaparral jumped out to a 19-6 first quarter lead and Chatfield’s crowd was quieted in the second quarter as well when the Wolverines took a 33-21 lead at halftime.
But, in the third quarter the game started to go the Chargers’ way. Chaparral made just 2-of-6 free throws and Chatfield went 8-of-10 from the foul line. Junior Chelsea O’Brien was 5-of-5 from the free throw line.
“We had to take advantage of them getting so many fouls,” said O’Brien, who led the team in scoring with 20 points. “We just let them keep fouling us because we knew we’d be okay from the foul line.”
By the end of the third, the Chargers only trailed by 10, 45-35, and Chaparral’s shooting went cold at the beginning of the fourth.
Katie Shepard hit the Wolverines’ only shot in the first three minutes of the fourth. Again, the Chargers were sent to the foul line –seven times in those first minutes.
By the end of that quarter, Chatfield would make 11 trips to the line.
“We knew that what’s happened in the past is that they always beat us in the first quarter,” O’Brien said. “We expected to come back and so we didn’t get down on ourselves.”
Out of almost a dozen trips to the free throw line, Chatfield finished 10-of-20 in the fourth quarter. Chrissy Armstrong sank two foul shots late in that quarter which brought the Chargers within two, 53-51. The crowd decided to get into the game along with the players.
“We talked about trying to hustle more and get down the court faster,” said freshman Cassandra Hanna, who finished with seven points. “We were able to fast break and press afterwards which gave us a chance to score more baskets in the second half.”
Chatfield scored 22 points in the fourth quarter, seven coming from Danae Morton and six coming from O’Brien.
Morton put the final points on the board for Chatfield, which pulled the Chargers to within three, 60-57. But, unfortunately for the Chargers, Chaparral’s free throw shooting became hotter in the final minute of the game. As the Wolverines got possession, Chatfield committed several fouls in an attempt to get the ball back.
Chaparral went 5-of-6 in the final 30 seconds and put the game out of reach.
“I think we learned that we need to prepare better,” Mages said. “If we can play with a good team like this we need to raise the bar in practice.”