(Diane L. Wilson)
For the New Salem Baptist girls basketball team, the toughest part of the 2006-07 season has been getting games.
The Eagles, Class 2 state champions last year in the Missouri Christian Schools Activities Association, have had a tournament snowed out, another opponent snowed in and another program close up.
For the Marble Hill school, Monday night's 54-27 victory over rival Eagle Ridge Christian in Cape Girardeau was just the second time the team has been on the floor this year. And it didn't come as easy the score indicated.
"The girls are really rusty, and it was obvious," New Salem coach Jerome Gaines said. "They played a little ragged defensively and made some turnovers, but they'll settle down."
New Salem led just 26-21 at halftime, outscoring Eagle Ridge 10-5 over the final 5 minutes of the second period.
New Salem (3-0 including the forfeit win) scored the first eight points of the second half, which was two more points than it allowed Eagle Ridge (2-2) to score in the entire second half.
"We ran a box-and-one on [Kristen] Margrabe in the second half," Gaines said. "She kind of went wild in the first half, and Sarah Green stayed on her for the entire second half."
Margrabe, a 5-8 sophomore, ended up with 14 points, but just two after intermission. Fellow sophomore Abby Cohen scored nine points.
"We're young," said Eagle Ridge coach Janice Margrabe, who played a lot of junior high players. "They kind of shut Kristen down and that took us out of our offense."
New Salem also is young but returned all five starters from last year's state championship team. Green, a senior guard, led the team with 18 points, 14 in the first half. Junior Laura Poole added 14, including six in the third period; and freshman Martha Poole had 12 points, eight in the fourth period.
New Salem was 6-for-6 from the free throw line.
Eagle Ridge boys rally
The boys game in the rivalry matchup between the area's two MCSAA members was just about the reverse of the girls.
Undermanned New Salem built an early lead, but Eagle Ridge dominated the second half to post a 61-46 victory.
"The rivalry usually goes, 'New Salem beats Eagle Ridge,'" said first-year Eagle Ridge coach Jonathan Thomasson. "I think that was on our kids minds in the first half.
"After halftime, we just played our game."
Eagle Ridge's game was using its depth and quickness to beat New Salem (2-7) in transition.
Eagle Ridge (4-2) outscored New Salem 41-17 after halftime to turn a nine-point deficit into an easy win.
Ben Douglass scored 16 points and Aaron Shell added 13 for the winners. Daniel Lies chipped in with 10 points, as seven players chalked up points, which was more than the number of players New Salem employed in the game.
Brett Jones led New Salem with 15 points, Axel Mamros had 13 and Josh Davault came off the bench to score 12, including 8-for-8 on free throws.
Brett Jones and Trent Jones hit 3-pointers during New Salem's 12-0 scoring spree in the second period that turned a 13-12 deficit into an 11-point lead. The Eagles held a 29-20 halftime lead.
But Eagle Ridge held New Salem without a field goal for more than 9 minutes while battling back to take a 38-32 lead in the third period.
Shell's 3-pointer midway through the fourth period answered two straight New Salem baskets and gave Eagle Ridge a 55-40 lead.
"We just ran out of gas," New Salem coach Ken Jones said. "We don't have a lot of depth. Early in the game, we didn't turn the ball over, but they got the momentum in the third period and we never recovered after that.
"When my best free throw shooter [Brett Jones} goes 2-for-11 ... the legs just weren't there."
Said Thomasson: "We usually play bigger teams. They didn't have that size and we needed to adjust. We play the 2-3 zone, and the guys on the block had to go out and cover their 3-point shooters. We did that better in the second half."
NEW SALEM BAPTIST 54, EAGLE RIDGE CHRISTIAN 27
NEW SALEM (54) -- Sarah Green 18, Laura Poole 14, Kelsey Barlow 2, Celsey Cook 6, Martha Poole 12, Leah Jones 2. FG 28, FT 6-6, F 9 (3-pointers: none. Fouled out: none).
EAGLE RIDGE (27) -- Kristen Margrabe 14, Abby Cohen 9, Lyndse Hamby 4. FG 11, FT 4-9, F 8 (3-pointers: Margrabe 1. Fouled out: none).
EAGLE RIDGE CHRISTIAN 61, NEW SALEM BAPTIST 46
NEW SALEM (46) -- Trent Jones 8, Brett Jones 15, Axel Malmros 13, Matt Jordan 4, Jacob Green 4, Josh Davault 12. FG 20, FT 15-29, F 4 (3-pointers: B. Jones 3, T. Jones 1. Fouled out: Malmros).
EAGLE RIDGE (61) -- Ben Douglass 16, Aaron Shell 13, Scott Edgar 8, Daniel Lies 10, Stephen Cohen 8, Josh Wiseman 4, Andrew Toeniskoetter 2. FG 25, FT 8-23, F 25 (3-pointers: Shell 2, Douglass 1. Fouled out: Lies, Cohen, Wiseman).