WESTFIELD – Scoring droughts hurt the Zionsville girls basketball team on Tuesday night in the sectional quarterfinal against Westfield.
Two droughts of more than 5:00 minutes led to two big Westfield runs, and the Eagles couldn’t come back in a 54-44 loss.
“It was really the tale of our season,” Zionsville head coach Andy Maguire said. “We played well enough in spurts to win, but in every game we have a couple of stretches where we just get into a lull and can’t score and turn it over. The beginning of the second half hurt us, we turned it over on three of the first four possessions and that set the tone.”
Zionsville jumped out to an 8-3 lead early in the game, getting 3-pointers from Aalia Carlson and Katey Richason.
They led 10-5 with 4:30 left in the first quarter, but didn’t score again until 7:16 remained in the second quarter.
During that time, Westfield went on 9-0 run and took the lead for good.
Down by as many as five in the second quarter, Zionsville went into the half down just 27-25 after a late jumper by Mallory Heerdt.
Westfield scored the first five points of the third quarter to lead 32-25 with 6:49 left in the third, but the Eagles cut the lead to 36-33 with 3:44 left in the quarter on two Laila Hull free throws.
But then another scoring drought came.
Zionsville didn’t score for the next 5:56, and Westfield was able to build an eight-point lead.
The Eagles twice got it within four and followed it with stops on the defensive end, but couldn’t get the basket they needed to in order to make it a one-possession game.
“We just missed a couple of good opportunities,” Maguire said. “We got it down to four a couple of times and just couldn’t get that next basket. If we make it a one-possession game, then we don’t have to foul and can just play good solid defense. They are a tough team to play late in games if you are trailing, because they shoot free throws so well.”
Laila Hull led the Eagles with 18 points and Aalia Carlson had 12.
“Laila had an outstanding year,” Maguire said. “The last month she has been so steady, not just on offense, but a lot of times we are putting her against the other team’s best player. She played really well today. I thought Imani was solid, she played really hard tonight and Aalis was able to hit some big shots. Katey struggled from the field, but was a huge factor in a lot of different areas to give us a chance. We got a lot of nice contributions from a lot of players, just not enough.”
Zionsville finished the season 6-17.
“We grew a lot over the course of the season,” Maguire said. “It’s too bad that we had so many injuries early, because it really put us about a month behind. The last month we played really well, and if we had another month of practice time, we would be right there.”
Carlson and Imani Thomas graduate, but the rest of the Eagles return next season.
“We have a great foundation for the future,” Maguire said. “We challenged them after the game to really work on what they have to improve on and this group will do that. They put in a lot of time in AAU and with their personal coaches and they are going to get a lot better.”