By Travis Whitton
For The Herald Bulletin
---- — LAPEL – Saturday afternoon saw a pair of Class 2A ranked teams square off in Lapel’s old Doghouse. Mistakes and missed free throws cost the Lady Bulldogs the chance to stay unbeaten with a 54-50 loss to Cardinal Ritter.
The No. 10 Bulldogs (6-1, 3-1 Indiana Crossroads Conference) dug themselves a 6-1 hole to start the game, and it took them until halftime to get out of it. Lapel held its first lead 28-26 as the two teams went into their respective locker rooms.
Lapel had just about as many turnovers in the third quarter (9) as the No. 7 Raiders (6-1, 2-0 ICC) did in the whole game (10). Compounding the turnover problem was the fact that the home team hit just one of its four free-throw attempts and only 50-percent for the game.
“I thought we played with great heart today. I thought Ritter played with great heart,” said Bulldogs coach Kevin Brattain. “It was a physical, knock down game from the get-go. We did exactly everything we wanted to do. We got to the free-throw line. We thought we could attack them off the dribble, but when you shoot 13 out of 26 from the free-throw line you’re not going to beat anybody.
“You might be able to beat some team that’s not very good, but when you’re playing a team that’s ranked in the state you’re going to have to knock down free throws,” he added.
Despite the fact that statistically Lapel was beat in just about every category in the scorebook, Brattain felt like they kept the game close by sheer will and its competitive drive.
“I thought our kids competed,” said the Bulldogs coach. “I mean, you can’t fault our kids for their competing tonight. I thought we did. Things weren’t going our way, there’s no doubt about it. We were in trouble the whole game. But the little things we’ve been able to do all year – the simple things – we struggled with that, and we made a lot of really poor judgments.”
Brattain said that the change of venues didn’t play a part in the way his team played against the Raiders. He said the biggest issue his team had was from the mental aspect of the game.
“It’s all mental. When you go to the free-throw line and start missing, it just snowballs,” he said. “You take from this game that we can play with anybody. But we’ve got to do some things better, and we knew that. We’ve struggled a little bit with our perimeter shooting.”
Lapel had a chance to make a statement if it could’ve beaten a ranked Ritter team. Things don’t get any easier as they have Class 2A, No. 5 Eastern Hancock at home this Tuesday.
“We talked about how big this game was with these next two games, Ritter’s ranked seventh and Eastern Hancock’s fifth, and we have them back-to-back,” said Brattain. “This was an opportunity to make a statement and to have it at home. We have another tough game Tuesday, so we can’t sit around and pout about it.”
Mackenzie Boles led Lapel with 12 points and 14 boards. She was followed by the 10 points apiece for Kirsten Rich and Daniele Burnell.
The Raiders’ Taylor Speckman led all scorers with 27 points on the day.