Apollo-Ridge girls edge Greensburg Central Catholic for key section victory

Monday, February 8, 2021 | 11:03 PM

In crunch time, the Apollo-Ridge girls basketball team stood tall.

Despite seeing a double-digit lead disappear in the second half of Monday’s Section 4-2A game against Greensburg Central Catholic, the Vikings made the necessary plays down the stretch in the fourth quarter to secure a 46-42 victory.

“We all, as a team, stepped up in this game,” said Apollo-Ridge senior guard Morgan Gamble, who led her team with 16 points.

“We all came together, and it felt really great to get this win. This gives us great momentum moving forward.”

With the game on the line, freshman Sophia Yard delivered for the Vikings.

Apollo-Ridge led 44-42 with 10 seconds left, and GCC freshman Mya Morgan stepped to the foul line with a chance to tie the game. She was not able to convert either free throw, and Yard grabbed the rebound of the second miss and was fouled with seven seconds on the clock, sending her to the line.

Yard hit both free throws to seal the victory.

“When I came down the court, I didn’t know I was going to the line,” Yard said. “I didn’t know they called the foul. I just figured we had possession. At first, I was excited, and then the nerves got going. I just told myself, ‘You have to get this.’

“Whenever they went in, it was just pure excitement. We all did amazing to get there to have a chance to win in the end.”

The victory lifted Apollo-Ridge to 3-3 overall and 3-2 in section play. The Vikings return to section action Thursday at Springdale.

GCC fell to 5-3 overall, 1-2 in the section, and is scheduled to play at Springdale on Wednesday.

The Vikings were able to overcome 24 turnovers to pick up the win. GCC turned the ball over 22 times.

Apollo-Ridge opened its largest lead of the game – 11 points at 33-22 – with 4:05 left in the third quarter, but GCC rallied with a 15-3 run over the remainder of the third and into the fourth to take a 37-36 advantage.

Bailey Kuhns scored 13 of her game-high 19 points in the second half. She added six rebounds.

GCC led 42-41 before Gamble, who has battled through a left knee injury this season, hit her lone 3-pointer of the game with 49 seconds left in regulation to put Apollo-Ridge ahead and set up the drama of the final 10 seconds.

“We just told the girls to keep playing,” Apollo-Ridge coach Ray Bartha said, discussing his team’s ability to weather the second-half storm.

“Knowing what kind of team GCC is, we knew it probably was going to get close again. The girls were able to keep their composure and execute what we thought we could do. We scratched on defense. If we weren’t doing well on offense, we were hustling on defense. They have some nice, talented players, and we tried to keep them in check the best we could.”

Vikings sophomore Brinley Toland added 11 points, and Yard’s clutch free throws capped an eight-point effort.

Senior Madi Marks, who returned to the lineup Jan. 28 after dealing with a foot injury, finished with two points, but she contributed eight rebounds.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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