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Maidens close gap but fall short against Lady Bulldogs

RONAN — The Maidens displayed a lot of progress against the Lady Bulldogs but still couldn’t come away with a win.

In the 40-33 narrow loss to rival Mission at home Saturday, it looked like a different Maiden team took the court than the one that only scored one first-quarter point and went 4-of-47 from the field in a 24-15 loss in Mission in December.

“We’re getting better; you can see it,” Ronan coach Doug Fisher told his team after the game, as he encouraged them not to lose faith, which can be easy to do when you’ve only won one game. “They keep getting better. They’re growing each game and each practice. It’s evident in how they’re playing; it’s just when you start at the bottom of the mountain, it’s going to take some time to get to the top.” 

As much as the Maidens have improved since their first meeting with the Lady Bulldogs, they have still been plagued by turnovers, and Saturday was no different. They finished with 28 and had two stretches in the game, where they turned the ball over on four consecutive trips down the floor. One of these stretches fueled an 8-0 run by Mission to end the third quarter, giving them a 29-21 lead.

The Maidens weren’t the only team turning the ball over. Their pressure defense came up with 11 steals, with freshman Courtney Clairmont coming up with five of them, and forced the Lady Bulldogs to commit 33 turnovers in the game. 

“We can’t be upset with how hard they played. They got after it,” Fisher said. “Our defense is playing well enough to win, it’s just right now our offense is lagging.”

Done in by a slow start in Mission, the Maidens got off a quick start Saturday and took an 11-9 lead into the second quarter. Junior Tailyr Irvine scored five of her six points in the opening quarter. Irvine led the Maidens with eight rebounds, with half of them coming off the offensive glass.

“They were collapsing and trying to take Jonna (Grant) out of the game. Tailyr (Irvine) stepped up and made some shots from the short corner,” Fisher said. “In the second half we didn’t get her the ball either because of turnovers or they adjusted to what we were doing.”

The Maidens went 11-for-38 from inside the arc (29 percent), but were only 1-for-11 behind the 3-point line, with their trey not coming until the final seconds, when Jonna Grant connected to make it a 40-33 game. 

Nina Orozco went 4-for-11 from the field and led the Maidens with nine points. The sophomore also pulled down six rebounds. 
 
Kept silent by her former teammates for most of the game, Grant scored six points in the fourth quarter to finish with eight points. Grant’s only points outside the fourth quarter came with just less than three minutes to play in the first half to cut the Lady Bulldogs’ lead to 17-15, but the Lady Bulldogs hit back-to-back buckets to take a 21-15 lead into the second half.
 
With Orozco and Grant combining for more than half of their points again, the Maidens are still searching for another player to step up and help them offensively. Fisher said that he has plenty of girls that have stepped up defensively, now he just needs a guard to contribute on the offensive side of the ball to help the Maidens’ one-two punch.
 
After hosting Superior Tuesday, the Maidens (1-11) will travel to Whitefish Thursday for a conference game. The Maidens’ lone victory this year came against the Lady Bulldogs.

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