Goshen girls pick up first win,
Eagles dismantle the Tigers
By KEVIN PEARCEY
Friday proved to be a good night for Goshen basketball, with both the boys’ and girls’ teams coming out with victories over visiting Clayton.
The boys’ squad avenged an early season loss to the Tigers with a sound 84-68 win to improve to 8-3 on the year. But the big story of the night was the Lady Eagles, who after ten-straight losses finally got one in the win column, with an exciting down-to-the-wire 59-58 victory over the Lady Tigers.
Eagles’ senior Kayla Ellis, who struggled from the line most of the night, hit a pair free throws in the closing seconds of the game which would prove to be pivotal in the outcome.
On Clayton’s next trip down the floor, Tracy Peterson knocked in a 3-pointer, pulling the Lady Tigers within one, but with just under 10 seconds left in regulation Goshen was able to hold on to the ball and escape with a win that was a long time overdue.
"This feels good," Lady Eagles head coach Dan Green said. "They’ve been in some games that they could’ve won, but they just got nervous because they’re so young. Tonight they just kept hanging in there, hanging in there, and hanging in there. They deserved to win this one tonight."
Goshen led by as many as 11 points in the first half, thanks in part to the outside shooting of Erica Shepherd and Nikki Williams. Williams proved that she is going to be a star in the future, with a career high 21 points to go along with Ellis’ leading 23 points on the night.
Clayton fought back in the second quarter using an 11-4 run to pull within the four at halftime, 27-23, but in the third Ellis and Williams combined for all 12 of Goshen’s points during the period, helping match Clayton basket for basket.
"Anytime you can get a win, it’s good," said Goshen boys’ head coach Major Lane. "Certainly
our girls team has been unlucky this year. But they’ve worked extremely hard and they showed a lot of confidence and poise tonight and I was proud to see that."
The Lady Eagles win set up the boys’ squad with a chance to make Goshen 2-0 on the night and the Eagles didn’t disappoint anyone as they went on to dismantle a very talented Clayton Tiger team.
Unlike the first meeting though, this time the Eagles shot the ball good from the field, as well as the free throw line, going 18 out of 27 from the charity stripe.
"We played pretty good ball tonight," Lane said. "We wanted to attack their press and we did that. We were able to get the ball in the gutter of their defense and get some easy shots and layups inside. They never adjusted to that in the first half and we opened it up into a lead where they couldn’t get back into the ball game."
The Eagles led by 23 at halftime, 49-26.
On the night Goshen placed four starters in double figures. Kedaris Pelton led the team with 18, followed by both Jamar Tucker and Larry Nichols with 15 apiece and Willie Darby with 12.
Sophomore Averick Rogers came one point away from making it all starters in double digits with nine points on the night.
LaKeith Persons led Clayton with a Michael Jordan-like performance of 38 points. He was followed by Charles Rodgers with 17.
"All we could try and do was contain LaKeith Persons," Lane said. "We know he’s an outstanding player and all you can hope for is that he has an off night. We were able to handle him some in a box and one defense, but when we dropped back into a zone, he found his range back again and he was just uncanny from the outside.
Persons had 19 points in the fourth quarter alone, but by then Goshen’s lead was insurmountable and Coach Lane said he felt the game had been decided.
"We felt like the things that we wanted to do, we were able to accomplish ," he said.