Cats turnover opportunities with two losses
If ever there was one play that summed up the De Soto girls basketball teams struggles, it came in the third quarter of Monday's loss to Spring Hill.
Kira Gonzalez stole the ball and raced down the court, ahead of all but one of the defending Broncos. Her quickness set up a pretty good shot -- she started to pull up from about eight feet and would easily have been able to get the ball over Spring Hill's lone defender.
The Cats are trying to pass the ball more, however, and that's exactly what she did. She bounced it around the defender to an even more wide-open Jackie Goleman, who had beaten Gonzalez to the basket and set up right beneath the glass.
Of course the shot didn't go in. The ball bounded off the rim and into a Bronco's hands and De Soto whiffed on the entire opportunity.
So it went for De Soto, both in Monday's 61-50 loss at Spring Hill and Friday's 52-40 home loss to Eudora. Two games back from the two-week winter break and the Cats aren't at all happy.
"We have to get rid of the turnovers, we have to make better decisions on the floor and we have to get better defensively," De Soto coach Dwight Spencer said. "We made some progress offensively, and at least I felt like we played with a lot of heart tonight."
Monday's loss was De Soto's third straight, and all the more frustrating because it seemed early in the game a double-digit loss didn't appear to be in the cards.
De Soto was at its best in the game's first quarter. Kaylee Spencer canned two 3-point shots to open the game. Gonzalez sank a pair of free throws, then was fouled while scoring another basket. She made that free throw and De Soto opened up an 11-2 advantage.
An aggressive approach worked, at least early.
"We're not a very patient team," Spencer said. "Kira's better in the open floor than she is in the half-court game and she wants to run. She wants to push it."
It wouldn't last, however. De Soto looked out of sorts in the loss to Eudora, and that same lack of composure helped Spring Hill first get back into the game, then take control.
Fouls began to pile up late in the first half and Goleman and Kaylee Spencer both took to the bench and Spring Hill had a 26-24 lead at halftime.
A surge in the third quarter gave the Cats another chance to turn things around. Gonzalez scored four in the quarter, adding to her team-high 15 points, but Goleman had the biggest affect.
The team's leading scorer a year ago who was slowed by an injury before winter break, the senior forward looked her old self and dominated at the post.
She scored six of her seven points in the third quarter, drawing fouls and commanding extra defensive attention.
Goleman made two free throws late in the quarter and Lisbeth Rosales put an offensive rebound back up as the buzzer sounded, giving De Soto its first lead since early in the game.
But again, it wouldn't last. A flurry of turnovers helped the Broncos put together a 9-1 run. De Soto was forced into fouling to try to get back into it, but Spring Hill made eight-of-11 free throws in the final minutes to keep De Soto at bay.
"We got some really good looks at the baskets and we just couldn't put it in," Spencer said. "We just have to keep working to get those shots and hopefully they'll start falling for us."
De Soto has one last chance to turn the early part of January around before it will have another long break. The Cats travel to Osawatomie for a 6:15 p.m. Friday game.
A win puts De Soto back at .500, 4-4. A loss, however, would have a long time to echo as the Cats go nearly a week without a game.
"Our next two games are very important to us," Spencer said. "I told the kids we're not even going to talk about winning and losing at this point. We're going to talk about improving and getting better to try and get to the point where we're playing consist both on offense and defense."