DAILY JOURNAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
Talk about comebacks.
The Greenwood Christian Academy girls basketball team overcame a 17-point third-quarter deficit to defeat Manual 56-54 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Wednesday.
For the Cougars (5-5), the win was their third straight and fourth in the past five games.
Down by eight at the end of the third period, the Cougars sliced the Redskins lead to three points at 51-48 on a steal and fast-break layup by sophomore guard Grace Peters.
Following a Manual turnover, one of 10 in the second half, Peters buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 1:12 left to pull the Cougars within one, 54-53.
A Cougars timeout set up a double-team trap defense in the backcourt leading to a turnover, which gave sophomore center Sarah Mangan just enough space to get off a shot that rolled off the rim while being fouled.
Mangan converted one of two free throws to tie the game at 54-54 with 17 seconds left.
Manual, with a chance at the last possession, got the ball to midcourt.
But Peters stole the ball and laid it in off the glass from the right side to give the Cougars their first lead in the game with two seconds remaining.
A third consecutive turnover by Manual gave the ball to the Cougars, who were able to run out the clock.
“Our kids have learned that you don’t give up, and our motto is ‘Don’t give up, and don’t give in,’” fourth-year coach Alan Weems said. “Even with our foul trouble, this was a testament to their strong will.”
The Cougars outscored the Redskins 18-8 in the final period. But in the early going, Manual used it height and speed to its advantage, resulting in a 16-10 first-quarter lead.
With two post players, seniors Shelby Staggs and Calynn Jackson, the Redskins were able to work the inside, getting easy layups. Outside, junior guards Trinitee Johnson and Jyah Taylor combined for 31 points.
But in the second half, the Cougars overcame their first-half jitters and took care of the basketball, committing only six turnovers. Manual had 27 for the game.
With two players out with injury, Weems was limited to a rotation of only eight players. Complicating things even more, junior point guard Katie Cruse fouled out early in the fourth quarter.
“This was a very difficult game, obviously, without Katie in there at the end,” Weems said.
“We thought the kids did a really good job of picking up on the ball-handling end and at the same time just made some really big plays.”
For the Cougars, three players were in double figures. Mangan had a team-high 16 points. She also had 14 rebounds.
Senior guard Hannah Peters had 15 points, and Grace Peters had 12. For Manual (8-3), Johnson had a team-high 17 points, and Taylor added 14.
Greenwood Christian will return to action Friday with a game at Central Christian.