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Hornets battle before falling at Seeger, 40-21

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ON THE DRIVE: Rossville senior Sammie Malson drives past Seeger’s Riley Schrader in the second half of Tuesday’s loss at Seeger that opened the county girls basketball season.
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FINGER ROLL: Rossville’s Jayla Rosen scoops up a shot in the second half after splitting several defenders in Rossville’s 40-21 loss at Seeger on Tuesday.
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UP FOR TWO: Rossville sophomore Michelle Rodkey gets an open shot on the block in the Hornets’ 40-21 loss at Seeger on Tuesday.

BY ANDREW KRULL - akrull@ftimes.com

Rossville led a talented and veteran Seeger squad on the road for nearly two-and-a-half quarters to open the girls basketball season on Tuesday before the Patriots’ full-court pressure forced some turnovers and they started hitting shots for a 40-21 win.

Despite being without last season’s leading scorer Madison Miller, the Hornets led 9-8 to end the half in a low scoring affair as Rossville’s Michelle Rodkey got a rebound basket 16 seconds before the break for the lead.

“They changed up the press after that,” Rossville head coach Chad Geheb said. “In the first half it was more man-to-man and we were able to clear out their pressure pretty well. In the second half, they changed it to a little more trapping.

“Their height and length bothered us a little bit. They were taller than us at pretty much every position, so we had a difficult time breaking their trap pressure. That obviously led to easy baskets for them and once you get into a rhythm those shots that they were missing in the first half started going down in the second half. Conversely, we couldn’t get in a good rhythm because we’re struggling so much to get the ball down the floor.”

After Seeger pushed out to a 13-9 lead to start the second half, Rossville’s Sammie Malson hit an elbow jumper and then found Rodkey underneath on a designed in-bounds play after a timeout before Jalya Rosen hit a long jumper just inside the 3-point line for a 15-13 Hornet advantage with 4:34 left in the third quarter. Offensively, it was the most efficient minute of offense for Rossville on the night.

Riley Schrader hit two free throws to bring the Patriots back even and in the last three minutes of the quarter Seeger’s pressure led to five points off steals, with Shrader scoring twice going the other way and Kiley White hitting a free throw after a foul on another.

White also hit a 3 in that stretch scoring six of her game-high 19 points as Seeger opened up a 28-15 advantage before the quarter ended. Meanwhile, the Hornets went through a five-minute scoring drought until Malson hit two free throws with 7:33 left in the game.

Geheb knew going in that the Seeger would provide a challenge coming off a 20-4 season last year.

“They pretty much returned everybody from last year’s team, particularly their three best players,” he said. “Like you said, they beat Prairie in the sectional and competed well (in the sectional championship) with (Lafayette Central Catholic) which we all know was a very good team as well last year.

“We knew coming in that it was going to be a very tough task for us, but we also knew we could come in and play hard and we could defend and rebound,” Geheb added. “We could compete and I thought we did that, particularly in the first half.”

The task was made more difficult with Miller, last year’s leading scorer at 12.8 ppg, sidelined to open the season due to injury.

“We just had a difficult time putting the ball in the basket and that’s a pretty important facet of the game,” Geheb said. “We got a lot of good shots tonight, but we’ve just got to learn how to slow the game down a little bit so when we get in a position to score we can knock those shots down. I thought we hurried a little bit on our shooting. We had open shots then drove it where we put ourselves in a little more difficult situations.”

He liked other aspects of his team’s performance.

“There’s lots of things I think we did well tonight, especially on the defensive end of the floor, and we rebounded really well,” Geheb said with Rossville outrebounding the Patriots, 36-25. “We’ve just got to work on the offense and I think when we get Madison back that will help things. That will give us an additional ballhandler and an additional scorer and that’s going to open up some things for Michelle inside and our shooters on the outside.”

Miller hasn’t practiced since last Thursday but the good news is that she should return soon.

“We don’t know exactly what happened,” Geheb said. “A ligament in her hip got tightened and really balled up a little bit. She got cleared today so we anticipate her moving back into the swing of things. Hopefully, we can get her in (tonight against Faith Christian) or if not we can get her in next week.”

Rodkey and Malson led the Hornets in scoring with six points each. Rosen and Adelyn Root added three each and Emma Lawson two.

Rodkey had a team-high nine rebounds adding two assists, three steals and two blocks. Malson had eight rebounds with two steals and an assist. Other stat contributions came from Rosen (three rebounds, an assist and two steals), Lawson (five rebounds), Kennedy Houser (two rebounds), Alyssa Redding (two assists and a rebound), Root (one rebound) and Taryn Wainscott (one rebound).

Rossville travels to Faith Christian tonight for their next game. There will be no junior varsity game with the varsity contest starting at 6:30 p.m.

“I really just liked how we competed and that’s going to be something that we’re going to talk about every night whether in practice or a game,” Geheb said of Tuesday’s effort. “We look forward to getting (Madison) back and also working with these other kids and improving on their skills. These younger kids, it’s just a matter of getting reps and understanding the speed and physicality of the varsity game and being able to handle that better. Once we do that I think we’ll be in good shape.”