Glenelg Country showed a lot of resolve Thursday night on the road against Concordia Prep. The Dragons were coming off their first loss of the season, and could have gotten in a slump, but instead came out firing, as a dominating first quarter led to their 10th win on the year.
“They’re incredibly resilient,” said Glenelg Country coach Ed Conroy after the 57-37 win over the Saints. “They’re a young team but they’re not only learning to play together, but playing together on the road, so today was a great win.”
The Dragons have had excellent starts this season and Thursday’s performance belongs at the top with them. It seemed like they couldn’t miss from anywhere on the floor, as they knocked down nine shots from the field, including four from beyond the three-point mark, while hitting 6-of-8 from the foul line in the first quarter alone. Freshman forward Taylor Gillis led the surge, as she netted 10 of her final 12 points in the first eight minutes, while knocking down three consecutive shots to start the game. Glenelg Country’s hot shooting gave them a 28-8 cushion to end the period.
“We didn’t want to lose that last game, so we talked a lot about mental toughness at practice and then really showed it in the first quarter and throughout the game,” said Glenelg Country freshman guard Olivia O’Leary. “I think at Oldfields we got a little bit frazzled, but with the whole mental toughness thing, we just really showed it today.”
However the Dragons shooting touch didn’t spill over to the second quarter, as they took until the final seconds to find their only basket of the period.
Glenelg Country’s shooting woes helped the Saints garner some momentum and chip away at the Dragons lead. Senior Kaitlyn Woolsey aided the Concordia run, as she attacked the basket and worked inside the paint. She scored six of her 20 points in the second quarter, while finishing on 7-for-11 from the foul line in the game.
“They’ve had a couple games where they have put up 30 in the first quarter, but they were really excited for this game and they came out and played like it,” Conroy said. “We knew Concordia was going to come back out and make a run and they did, they came back at us in the second quarter, so it was nice to have a cushion in the first.”
The Saints got as close as eight points in the quarter, until Taylor Denny banked in her basket at the buzzer, which pushed the Dragons lead back to double-figures.
In the second half of action, Glenelg Country didn’t let its second-quarter shooting slump affect them. In fact the Dragons continued building on their lead, extending their cushion to as many as 21, which came with less than a minute left in the third.
“I think we just kind of got a cold hand,” O’Leary said. “But we didn’t let it stop us. We let our defense get us back to shooting again.”
Glenelg Country also played well defensively. Except for Woolsey, the Dragons limited the rest of the Saints shooters to just one basket apiece.
Their activeness on the defensive side of the ball caused numerous turnovers, allowing the Dragons to push out in transition throughout the game.
“Our coach tells us always to fill the lanes and that’s what we try to do,” O’Leary said. “We try to help the helper out, and we have to make sure we talk so we have communication about when to help each other out.”
Those quick buckets helped stall Concordia’s momentum in the second half and helped the Dragons hand the Saints only their second loss of the season.
“I mean transition buckets are easy, so we’ll take them anytime we can get them and the girls were running today it was nice,” Conroy said. “That’s exactly how they needed to play. They put that loss behind them and we got a lot of big games coming up so we’re excited for the last few games of the regular season.”
O’Leary finished with 14 points on the night, while Taylor Denny led the team with 16 points, with Brianna Chun and Lola Hankins chipping in with eight and seven points, respectively.
“I just think we’ve been playing good all year and we’re going to keep getting better, along with everyone else,” O’Leary added.
The Dragons have four regular season games left before the start of postseason play. They get back on the court Wednesday, Jan. 20 when they host Garrison Forest.
Glenelg Country 57, Concordia Prep 37 (Thursday, Jan. 14)
GC (10-1): Denny 16, O’Leary 14, Gillis 12, Hankins 8, Chun 7.
CP (11-2):Woolsey 20, Strohman 7, Sabatino 3, Licata 2, Stroh 2, Stephens 1.
Half: 30-20 GC