Working to regain a team rhythm is typical at the start of a new season, and South Carroll is trying to get there.
The Cavaliers found themselves down by three to Gerstell at the end of the first quarter Tuesday. But, they gradually pulled ahead in the second and never looked back, defeating the Falcons 43-32.
Freshman forward Rachel Tackett and senior forward Allison Weis scored 10 points each for the Cavaliers. Senior guard Rachel Estes had three steals and assists apiece and fellow senior guard Bailey Patrick notched six rebounds, two steals and an assist.
"I saw them pick up the intensity in the second half which was important because they have to be able to pick it up when they need to," Cavs coach Liz Padgett said. "I saw them handle a little pressure at the end which we need to see and we were able to switch defenses up a couple times which is nice."
The Falcons used a 7-0 run in the first quarter to hold a 10-7 lead, but the Cavs pulled ahead 16-15 at the break. Patrick and Tackett each sank a pair of free throws to give the Cavs a 27-22 lead with under four minutes left in the third frame.
Tackett, who added 10 rebounds, four assists and a steal for the Cavs, is listed at 5 feet, 9 inches on the roster — the second tallest player behind Patrick at 5-10 — and she's only a freshman.
"That will help," Patrick said. "Rachel is a freshman on varsity and is playing really well for just getting pulled up so I think once she gets the rhythm of the game, she'll be fine. It just might take another game or two."
With less than five minutes remaining, Gerstell sophomore guard Tyra Echevarria notched a layup to bring the Falcons within eight points. Echevarria scored a game-high 17 points.
Patrick's basket gave the Cavaliers a 43-28 lead, but the Falcons closed out the game with three separate free throw opportunities in the final two minutes — Echevarria sank two.
"I learned from one of our captains last year how to be a good leader," Patrick said. "I kind of learned that you always have to be confident with everybody and say good things on the court, and I've been trying to really focus on doing that."
Patrick is one of six seniors on this year's team that is still growing together after losing key starters Keriann McTavish, Sam Franklin, and Bri Heim to graduation last year.
"They have to get floor time," Padgett said. "They are inexperienced, I have a lot of kids that haven't seen a lot of varsity time and they're going to have to get used to it and play through tough times, play through good times to get as much experience as possible whether they're winning or losing, pressure or no pressure.
"They work hard and are a good group of girls and I enjoy being around them. We have a long way to go and we still have things to work on but we have to find what works for us and who works for us. I'm excited to see them find those roles and the growing pains may be tough but it will be worth it in the end."
South Carroll (43): Rachel Tackett 10, Allison Weis 10, Bailey Patrick 9, Rachel Estes 7, Riley Evans 3, Marlee Carroll 2, Greta Knopp 2.