CHARLESTON -- The Charleston girls’ basketball team got its first look at Mahomet-Seymour in Apollo Conference play and the Bulldogs gave the Lady Trojans all they could handle at Baker Gym on Thursday.
But even with how hard the Bulldogs pushed, the Lady Trojans pushed back and had an answer every time the Bulldogs either took a slight lead or crept within a couple of points.
Then Charleston started to hit its stride in the fourth quarter. The Lady Trojans scored 29 points in the final period and hit 14-of-17 free throws to pull away for a 71-53 victory.
Charleston improved to 7-0 overall and 2-0 in the Apollo. Mahomet-Seymour falls to 4-2 and 1-1 in the Apollo.
“We had a big fourth quarter and that was huge for us. I thought they outplayed us,” Charleston coach Jeff Miller said. “That matchup zone, we didn’t adjust. We were content standing at the perimeter and passing it around. Once we started breaking it down on the dribble, things started to shift in our favor.
“We are in foul trouble all night, we weren’t knocking down shots and they had everything to do with that. We kept our composure and we were fortunate to walk out with a nice conference win.”
Charleston senior guard Hope Griffin helped break down the Bulldogs’ zone in the fourth quarter with her dribble-drive penetration. Griffin finished with 17 points, five assists and four steals on the night.
“Hope was big for us tonight, 17 points for the evening,” Miller said. “That’s quite a bit above her average. You expect your seniors to step up and make plays like that. Hope certainly gave us a lift tonight.”
Shae Littleford led Charleston with 20 points, Regan Bollant had nine points, Kaitlyn Coffey had eight points and Elizabeth Buescher scored seven.
The Lady Trojans jumped out to a 6-2 lead and their defense helped them keep the lead in the opening quarter. Charleston forced seven turnovers in the first quarter and the Lady Trojans held the Bulldogs to 11 points.
The Bulldogs did cut it to 9-6 when Griffin scored on a layup and she hit the free throw to complete the three-point play. Then Littleford got a steal and scored on a layup for a 14-6 lead. Charleston went into the second quarter with a 16-11 lead.
The Bulldogs cut the lead to 16-13 when Charleston hit 3-of-4 free throws to go up 19-13. But those were the only three points Charleston scored until the 3:12 mark of the game.
The Bulldogs took advantage and took better control of the ball with only three turnovers. Mahomet-Seymour went on a 7-0 run to take a 20-19 lead.
Littleford hit a 3-pointer and the Bulldogs got three more points to keep a 23-22 lead when Charleston started to force more turnovers in the final two minutes of the half. Five turnovers led to more points as the Lady Trojans went on a 9-2 run at the end of the half to take a 31-25 lead. Griffin had four of the points and Littleford scored the other five, including a traditional three-point play with a second left before halftime.
The Bulldogs cut Charleston’s lead to 35-31 in the third quarter when Bollant hit a three and Griffin got a steal and layup to go up 40-31 with 4:17 left in the quarter.
But Charleston had trouble taking care of the ball. The Lady Trojans turned the ball over seven times in the quarter and the Bulldogs went on a 10-2 run in the final 3:34 of the third to cut Charleston’s lead to 42-41.
“We pride ourselves on taking care of the ball. We are only averaging 10 turnovers per game as a team,” Miller said. “For us to come out and do that in one quarter, it was a little embarrassing. But I was pleased because we were able to maintain our composure and make free throws down the stretch. We are happy to walk out with a win tonight.”
The Lady Trojans offense started to get on a roll in the fourth quarter. Littleford hit a three to open the fourth and Charleston went on a 13-5 run to build a 55-46 lead with 5:51 left in the game.
The Bulldogs kept it close at at 58-51 when Griffin found Coffey for an easy bucket and then Griffin hit four straight free throws to make it a double-digit lead at 64-51.
Charleston hit 14-of-17 free throws in fourth quarter and went on to win 71-53.
Charleston won the junior varsity game 64-28. Annie Crowder had 28 points for Charleston.