It took the Ball High Lady Tornadoes a while to adjust to a new game plan Tuesday night.
But once they did, the Lady Tors made a game of it, battling Class 6A Clear Lake to a 56-46 finish in favor of the Falcons in the opening game of the season for both teams at Ball High School.
“It was a combination of them adjusting to a new system and many of them playing their first game at the varsity level,” Ball High first-year head coach Amanda King said afterward. “But I think it’s the beginning of a very successful season.”
In fact, after falling behind by as many as 17-8 by the end of the first quarter, the Lady Tors began making plays of their own and pulled to within 20-16 by halftime.
Then, midway through the third quarter, Ball High answered a 6-0 run by Clear Lake with six straight points, as well, with Nina Kovach dropping in a steal on an inbounds pass for a 28-26 deficit.
Earlier, Ariana Smith brought the crowd to its feet with a steal and spinning layup.
Later, Kovach grabbed a steal of her own and passed off to Camavia Lartigue for a layup and a 29-28 Clear Lake advantage at the 2:20 mark.
Then the Lady Tors’ Brianca Houston hit a short jumper just before the third quarter ended, with Clear Lake eventually leading at that point, 34-30.
“We just weren’t able to stop No. 10 (Lexi Graham) and got into foul trouble down the stretch,” King said.
Ball High actually pulled ahead with 5:25 left in the fourth quarter when Bebe Galloway dropped in a pair of free throws for a 37-35 score.
Kovach kept the Lady Tors momentarily in front with a bomb from the corner and a 12-footer soon after with 3:10 remaining. But that would be the last time the home team led.
Graham took charge from there, responding with her third and fourth 3-pointers of the game, then scored four more points in an 8-0 run that gave Clear Lake a 51-42 cushion with 1:16 left in the game.
Graham, who finished with 37 points, also helped the cause with a fast-break pass to Katie Guhl for an easy basket.
Ball High could only respond with a Galloway layup off a Allison Harvey feed and a Kaila Lee layin by way of Galloway to close the gap to 53-46.
Galloway was the Lady Tors’ top scorer with 14 points, followed by Smith and Kovach with eight points each. Lee added six, and Harvey and Houston each had four.
Lartigue rounded out the Ball High scoring with two points.
“Our game plan going in was to get each of the girls as much playing time and experience as we could,” King said. “We’re still trying to find our five with the most chemistry.
“Defensively, they’re adjusting to a new defensive scheme, but I think they’re excited about the new style of play. We lost to Clear Lake by 30 last year, so tonight was a step in the right direction. We have a tough little bunch.”