FREMONT – For the opening 10 minutes of its game against Oregon Clay, the Fremont Ross girls basketball team looked like it could run and keep up with the Eagles.
But as the second quarter wore on, then gave way to the third, the Little Giants began to falter.
Clay started connecting with its perimeter shooting and Ross could not come up with an answer as the Eagles defeated the Little Giants 56-32.
“Clay would not stop,” Ross coach Juan Vela said. “They play one speed and it’s fast and it’s for four quarters. And it’s not just one, two, three or four players, it’s the whole team. They get subs in and they do not miss a beat.
“It’s hard to match that right now.”
Ross matched it for more than a quarter. Elayna Ackerman hit a pair of early buckets in the post and Torri Holmes hit from 3-point range as Ross took a 9-4 lead in the opening five minutes. Clay opened the game cold from the field as several 3-point shots rimmed out. Though the Eagles held the advantage in rebounding, second-chance points eluded them as well.
“I think the first quarter we came out with energy,” Vela said. “We responded, we played good defense we were sharing the ball and not turning the ball over. It was a good quarter, a great quarter.”
Ackerman scored the opening basket of the second quarter and Allison Miller made 1-of-2 free throws to tie the game at 14 with 6:22 to go before halftime. But the Little Giants did not score again until 5:31 remained in the third quarter.
Clay began hitting its shots, including a pair of 3-pointers within 41 seconds by Hannah Kuhlman, and soon opened up a double-digit lead, 25-14 going into halftime, as the Eagles went on a 21-0 run spanning the second and third quarters.
“We’re too good not to shoot 3-balls,” Clay coach Corey Slovak said. “In the second, a couple dropped and we opened it up a little bit.”
The second half saw the Eagles take off while the Little Giants’ fortunes tumbled. Ross compounded its struggles shooting with turnovers, including nine in the third quarter. While the first half saw Ross compete on defense and keep up with Clay’s motion-heavy offense, the Little Giants’ wore down as the game went on.
“Defensively we got into a funk, almost like they stopped believing,” Vela said. “That was my speech at halftime. It was, ‘You’re not going to win in the first quarter. You’re not going to win in the second, third fourth. This game might even go overtime. You have to keep fighting, keep fighting and grinding.’”
Ackerman led Ross with eight points, all of which came in the first half, and five rebounds. Valarie Samson added six points and Lexi Holmes had a nice defensive game, coming up with five steals.
Ross’ record dropped to 0-5 overall, 0-3 in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference, leaving Vela unsure how much confidence his team has in itself.
“I don’t know, I question that too, but we’re going to come back tomorrow and start figuring that out,” Vela said. “It’s a long season we can always turn it around. That’ all we can do, try turning it around.”