By Richard Greene
Even after rolling her ankle and missing more than five minutes of the first half, Alvord’s Jordan Ward found enough quickness when her team needed it the most Friday.
With the Lady Bulldogs facing their lone deficit of the night, the reigning 9-2A MVP stole the ball from Krum’s Caitlyn Arnold with 47 seconds near halfcourt. She took it in for a layup and the and-one to put the No. 1 Lady Bulldogs back up for good in the 41-40 victory over the No. 3 Lady Bobcats at Krum’s Bennie Enis Gym.
“I’d been scoping it out,” Ward said about the steal. “It’s preparation meeting opportunity. We needed it and that got the ball rolling.”
The Lady Bulldogs hope the win starts a roll to a second straight 9-2A title as they moved to 16-0 on the season and 1-0 in the league.
Alvord coach Rob Schmucker is quick to point out that there is a long ways to go.
“It’s just the first game,” he said. “But we did win on the road. Anytime you win on the road in district it’s huge.”
Three Lady Bulldogs reached double figures. Ward, Marrisa Schedcik and Carley King all had 10.
Along with her 10 points, Ward had four assists, eight rebounds and three steals. None of the steals were bigger than the swipe in the final minute with her team down 37-36.
“She got the steal at the right time,” said Alvord coach Rob Schmucker. “That and the and-one were huge.”
Krum coach Lana Degelia gave Ward credit for the play. It was her Lady Bobcats’ first loss of the season.
“Jordan does a great job. She’s quick and smart,” Degelia said. “But one shot doesn’t define a game. It’s 32 minutes. If we do what we need to in the other 32 mintues maybe there’s a different outcome.”
The Lady Bobcats didn’t help themselves with a cold start. Krum (14-1) went 1-for-12 from the field in the first quarter and 5-for-29 in the opening half.
“You can’t shoot that poor agianst a team like that and win,” Degelia said. “Alvord came out and had a great start.”
Alvord opened the game on a 8-0 run and built a 15-point lead, 23-8, on Carley King’s three-pointer with 2:51 left in the first half.
The Lady Bulldogs extended the lead from nine to 15 with Ward on the bench after rolling her ankle with 6:27 left in the second quarter. She did not return until 54 seconds before halftime.
“I’m proud of them,” Schmucker said. “In the second quarter, when [Ward] went down we built the lead. Overall, everyone stepped up.”
Krum ended the first half on a 6-0 run to get back within nine, 23-14. Rachel Wallace made a pair of baskets in the run. Wallace led all scorers with 20.
Krum tightened the defense in the third quarter and trimmed Alvord’s lead to five, 25-20.
A technical foul called on the Krum bench halted the run as Schedcik knocked down a pair of free throws. A King three-pointer extended the Alvord lead back to 10, 30-20.
Krum scored the final six points of the third quarter to make it a four-point game, 30-26, entering the final eight minutes.
After Madi Lynch’s mid-range jumper with 5:40 left put Alvord up 35-30, Krum went on a 7-1 run. The Lady Bobcats took their lone lead of the game with 2:49 remaining on Julia Schmaltz’ jumper.
Krum held the lead until Ward’s steal and layup.
Krum missed two shots inside with a chance to regain the lead, including Sydney Shelstead’s putback attempt. Shelstead had 11 points, making four of her 15 shot attempts against a trio of Alvord defenders – Sam Hahn, Chelsey Steele and Lynch – that took turns on her.
“We kept running fresh legs at her,” Schmucker said. “All three are different and gave her different looks.”
Lynch stretched the lead to two possessions with a pair of free throws with four seconds left.
But the game was not quite over as Wallace drew a foul on a three-point attempt in the final second. She hit all three free throws to make it a one-point game.
Alvord got the ball in to run out the clock, and get away with the win.