By Travis Smola
Down 38-40 with two seconds left against Sturgis, senior Layna Steele found some space and was able to get a 3-point jumper off right at the buzzer. The shot looked great, but bounced harmlessly off the rim.
It was an exciting way to end the 2016 portion of the Lady Bulldogs varsity basketball campaign, albeit not exactly what the girls had hoped for. Vicksburg had rallied from five points down in the last few minutes to have a chance at the win. “We never quit, we hustled right to the very end,” Head Coach Jesse Vanabel said.
Steele and fellow senior Kennedy Nabozny were the leading scorers for the Bulldogs despite being heavily face guarded all night. Steele put up 14 points and Nabozny had 13. Vicksburg had the lead for much of the first and second quarters, but in the third and fourth, the Trojans clamped down on defense.
Vanabel said the team has to do a better job of boxing out. After Sturgis took the lead later in the game, the girls had a difficult time rebounding and second shot attempts were rare. The ball also took some strange bounces at times. Shots that looked like they would fall somehow bounced out.
“We had a couple sparks where we played well, but we just weren’t consistent,” Vanabel said.
The Lady Bulldogs are 2-5 in the early part of the season. The loss to Sturgis came just a few days after the girls won a back-and-forth road contest against a very good Portage Northern team 36-35. The team’s other victory also came away from home court in a 48-41 victory over Three Rivers.
The good news is the winter break provided a couple weeks for the team to regroup before facing Plainwell for the first game of 2017 on January 10.