By JAMIE BAKER
VAN BUREN — Van Buren’s girls basketball team needs to get over the hump.
The Black Knights put together a solid outing Saturday afternoon against unbeaten Elmwood but the Royals got its act together in the fourth quarter to post a 56-47 win over the Black Knights.
Van Buren, who heads into the second half of its schedule with a 3-8 record, outplayed the Royals (10-0) for much of the game.
“It is a step for us in a way but we play these kind of games every night. We have New Riegel coming, we just played Arcadia and we have Liberty-Benton and Arlington coming up too,” Van Buren coach Mike Daniels said. “We’ve played these type of games every night, and right now, we’re just falling a little short.”
Van Buren led by as many as five points late in the third quarter before the Royals were able to rally and tie the game at 35-35 heading into the fourth frame.
The Black Knights were playing tough defense and scrapping for every loose ball. It was the kind of game that veteran Elmwood girls basketball coach expected from Van Buren.
“We knew coming in that Van Buren plays an aggressive style. Wins and losses may not show it, but Van Buren is a good team. They’ve been in a lot of close games. They outplayed us in the first half and in most of that third quarter,” Reynolds said.
“The key to our team is that these girls come back. When they get down, they fight hard and they are never be out of the game.”
The Royals got a lift from bench players Emily Smith, Courtney Emmitt, Reagan Rosendale and Tiffany Hillard who came into the game in the third quarter and helped turn the tide.
Van Buren, though, pulled out to a 38-35 lead on Lauren Wise’s 3-point play at the start of the fourth quarter.
But the Black Knights, who hit 9 of 16 from the foul line for the game, struggled from the stripe and missed several key shots in the fourth quarter that could have changed the outcome.
“It was free throw shooting and transition. We missed our lay-ups in the transition game and they made theirs,” Daniels said.
“One thing that was nice is that our girls were aggressive in attacking the basket and getting to the line. But we just weren’t making them. We really had them on the ropes.”
“We really played our half -court defense with trapping and rotating and we forced a lot of turnovers. I’m really happy with our effort,” he added.
Brittany George, who tossed in a game-high 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds, took charge for the Royals down the stretch.
She scored a pair of buckets in the fourth quarter and also added four points from the line to help the Royals stretch their lead to 52-42 with 2:30 to play.
Van Buren could get no closer than seven points the rest of the way.
Brittany Gross backed George with 12 points and two assists.
Kaleigh Frampton had a double-double for Van Buren with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Kristen Tropf netted 12 points and Morgan Flick dished off seven assists for the Black Knights.
With games coming up against Blanchard Valley Conference heavyweights Arlington and Liberty-Benton, Daniels thinks if his team can clean up a few things, they can go toe-to-toe with the Red Devils and Eagles — like they did Saturday against Elmwood
“It’s been the little things like the lay-ups and the foul shots that’s hurt us and we have to get that turned around. Once we do that, I think we’ll get a little much-needed confidence,” Daniels said.
Ti. Hillard 0-0—0, Curtis 3-1—7, Veryser 3-2—8, Swavel 0-0—0, Gross 4-4—12, Emmitt 1-2—4, To. Hillard 1-0—2, Smith 1-0—2, Rosendale 0-0—0, George 6-9—21, Errin 0-0—0. TOTALS: 19-61 18-24—56.
VAN BUREN (3-8)
Flick 0-0–0, Tropf 5-0—12, Endicott 1-0—2, Wymer 3-0—7, Phillips 1-0—2, R. Flick 0-0—0, Gilliland 1-0—2, Miller 0-0—0, Sudlow 2-0—4, Frampton 5-5—15, Wise 1-1—3. TOTALS: 19-56 9-16—47.
Van Buren 8 13 14 12 — 47
Elmwood 10 13 12 21 — 56
3-Point GOALS: Van Buren 3-11 (Tropf 2, Wymer); Elmwood 0-2
rebounds: Van Buren 35 (Frampton 13); Elmwood 31 (George 8).
turnovers: Van Buren 24, Elmwood 10.
junior varsity: Elmwood, 28-25.