Sterling start for Engle, Comets
BCLUW junior scores 29 in season-opening girls basketball win at Baxter
BAXTER — Dave Lee was frustrated after Tuesday night’s game.
The BCLUW head coach just watched his team pull out a tight, stop-start 60-53 victory in the Comets’ season opener over Baxter. Star junior guard/forward Allison Engle tallied career-highs of 29 points and 15 rebounds to kick off a season where she will be the focal point of the Comets’ attack.
But that part of the performance wasn’t what Lee was upset about.
“They really played harder than we did,” Lee said. “They were quicker than we were.”
The Comets did struggle early on to impose themselves on the game, as Baxter led for much of the first quarter. The game was tied at 12 after the first eight minutes, but that was after a BCLUW rally. Lee wasn’t thrilled with how the Comets rebounded the ball despite having 47 team boards to the Bolts’ 42. The physicality Baxter played with garnered respect from Lee, who called them a “scrappy” team.
In the second quarter Engle continued to show flashes of taking over the game, hitting a three to give the Comets the lead and taking the reins on offense whenever it looked as though BCLUW was struggling to get into a rhythm.
At the half, the Comets were trailing 23-21. It didn’t take long in the second half for that deficit to disappear — especially as Engle and center Chloe Walters (16 points, 12 rebounds) found a consistent rhythm on the offensive end of the floor.
Lee was very complimentary of Engle’s performance.
“Allison hit some big shots,” Lee said. “She got us back in the game. She hit a couple threes, made a couple good passes so we could get a shot and made free throws down the stretch.”
Halfway through the third, Walters got into foul trouble and was left with four fouls and over a quarter left to play. Lee made his first substitution of the game, putting Katie Hill in for Walters and bringing on Leah Pieper for Presley Engle. Lee said after the game he should have gotten Walters out of the game before fouls became an issue.
Briefly, Hill helped the Comets’ offense open up, as Walters was getting double-teamed in the post and Hill drawing single-covered allowed for Engle to get into the lane. The Comets took a nine-point lead at one point and held a 44-38 advantage after three quarters.
Walters didn’t come in until there was 3:28 left in the game, by which point Baxter mounted a charge and was within 47-45 on the scoreboard. The ending was close and Lee was still left frustrated by the Comets’ lack of force on the boards. But Engle and Walters avoided fouling out, instead scoring the points that would seal the game. Free throws from Engle to make the score 59-53 heading into the final 10 seconds left the Bolts no shot at a comeback.
After only three full practices as a team thanks to five of the top seven players in the squad being quarantined until last Thursday, Lee said getting a win despite an uneven performance was a huge building block.
“The key thing was out of all this stuff we’ve been through to get a win, that’s something we can set on and build on,” Lee said. “Everybody’s gonna bounce off of that.”
BCLUW 60, Baxter 53
BCLUW (1-0) — Lizzie Garber 1 0-4 2, Presley Engle 1 2-4 5, Allison Engle 9 8-11 29, Betula Messerly 1 3-5 6, Chloe Walters 7 2-5 16, Leah Pieper 0 0-0 0, Katie Hill 1 0-0 2. TOTALS 20 15-29 60.
BAXTER (0-1) — Ellie Tuhn 3 4-6 10, Maddie Pierce 2 9-10 13, McKenzie Eslinger 0 0-0 0, Lilie Vansice 3 0-1 6, Sophie Meyer 5 0-0 14, Allyson Padget 0 0-0 0, Merrin Ziesman 4 0-2 8, Mandie Selover 0 0-0 0, Brooke Bacon 1 0-0 2. TOTALS 18 13-19 53.
BCLUW 12 9 23 16 — 60
BAXTER 12 11 15 15 — 53
3-Point Goals–BCLUW 5 (A. Engle 3, P. Engle, Messerly); Baxter 4 (Meyer 4). Team Fouls–BCLUW 18, Baxter 22. Fouled Out–Tuhn.