On Friday night, the girls’ basketball team lost the PAL Bay Division title to the Mills Vikings at home with a final score of 40-46, bringing their record to 14-10 in their last league game.
The first quarter started with tough defense but also missed shots from both sides. Despite the slow start, M-A was soon able to push ahead with shots from senior Fiona Steinmetz and sophomores Lita Fakapela and Molly Gray respectively. A flurry of steals, fast breaks, and jump balls ended the quarter with the Bears ahead, 8-4.
The Bears initially capitalized on the Vikings’ missed shots but failed to keep up with their game in the second quarter. Scoring heated up in the second quarter as the Vikings went hard on offense, with consistent gains on both sides allowing the Bears to keep a rocky lead.
Senior Janiya Moss made a fast-break layup at 5:37 after a quick steal and assist by Fakapelea at halfcourt, while junior Eve Amram also made another three.
One particular possession left M-A with continuous attempts for a shot, scrambling rebound after rebound to put the ball in the basket. After several tries, Steinmetz managed to score. Following another steal by Fakapelea and missed free throws from the Vikings, the Bears ended the half up by 19-14.
As the Bears returned from halftime, the game ramped up on both sides. M-A missed several critical shots, allowing the Vikings to quickly catch up. The Bears broke away only temporarily with shots from junior Avary Sheldon and Steinmetz, but the Vikings soon leveled the score.
The game became a chasing race, with the Vikings offsetting the Bears’ every shot, staying at their heels. With only 13 seconds left in the third quarter, the Vikings had matched Amram’s three-pointer, making the score 30-29, with the Bears at a one-point lead by the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Bears struggled to keep up with the Vikings’ constant runs for the basket and aggressive defense. Mills opened with a basket, putting them a single point ahead of the Bears. Continuous offense allowed the Vikings to power through to capture a decent lead at 30-35.
Steinmetz managed to once again power through to the basket, but the Vikings refused to quit, sinking another three-pointer to widen the score gap. The Bears were given continuous missed attempts to score through fouls, whilst Mills capitalized on every shot.
The final minute of the game was permeated with frequent pauses and tension. The Bears scored with 14 seconds left on the clock, putting the score at 40-42 and falling only two points behind the Vikings. With the remaining seconds, M-A fouled Mills twice, handing them four free throws. As Mills put each shot into the basket, there was little chance left for the Bears to recover their lost ground, and the game closed with the last buzzer, ending at 40-46.
“Our strong point before the fourth quarter was our defense. I thought we pressured them well,” Amram said. “We definitely could have improved on our movement on offense, getting easier shots, and the way we finished the game.”
Steinmetz also added, “We were up by a decent amount towards the middle of the game and we kind of let it go.”
As for CCS, Amram said, “I’m looking to go all the way. Playoff games are a whole new type of game. These close games, especially with Mills, definitely motivated me to become the best player I can for the team. I’m excited to show the strengths of our team. I don’t see us losing another game anytime soon.”
The Bears will find out their CCS matchup this Wednesday, and play their first game on Friday, February 16th.