EDWARDSVILLE — Roxana girls’ basketball coach Tammy Talbert said the Shells’ shooting follows one of two trails:
“We’re either hot or we are ice-cold,” Talbert said.
Their shooting turned icy Monday as the Shells suffered a 52-43 setback to Metro East Lutheran in a nonconference game at Thomas Hooks Gym. While the Knights improved to 2-2, the Shells fell to 2-3.
And the deep freeze firing cost Roxana. The Shells made only 18 of 55 shots and were 6 of 15 from the foul line in absorbing a defeat. Roxana and MELHS were tied 25-25 at half, then the Shells had trouble registering a basket. They didn’t get their next one for more than 4.5 minutes into the third quarter.
“We couldn’t buy a basket at times,” Talbert said. “We got to the free throw line, but we sort of went cold there. We also didn’t defend that well.”
Hannah Rexford and Sara Kruetztrager tried to light a fire for their frigid offense. Rexford scored a game-best 18 points, 13 in the first half. Kreutztrager punched in 13 points, 9 in the fourth quarter.
However, the rest of the Shells combined for just 12 points. Meanwhile, Metro had nine players score, with Audrey Paitz leading them with 11 points. She sank a trio of treys as the Knights made 6 of 17 shots from 3-point land. The Shells connected on just one 3-pointer, a Kruetztrager trey with 2:46 remaining.
“Sara had a good fourth quarter and Hannah was getting her points in the first half by scoring from the baseline,” Talbert said. “Then our guards weren’t getting the ball to her enough in the second half.
“We have to work on that.”
The Knights picked up their defensive pace and that may have had something to do with the Shells’ inability to score the last two quarters.
“We started playing defense the way we are supposed to play it,” Knights’ coach Rob Stock said. “We picked up the intensity a lot and the girls did a good job of making adjustments.
“At halftime, we talked about our defensive responsibilities on Rexford and we played better the second half. Things took care of themselves.”
Stock credited the return of Karly Schley and Hannah Landers as a big boost to the Knights. Both were out with injuries and missed their first three games. They teamed for 11 points.
MELHS’ depth made a difference. Four reserves teamed for 22 points and sub Sami Kastings made a pair of 3-pointers. Ashlee Robinson contributed seven points and freshman Ellen Schulte had six points.
“We’re pretty deep with players and we had a lot of contributions from a lot of different people,” Stock said. “Overall, I think we settled down a little in the second half.”
Metro survived despite converting only 6 of 22 free throws and committing 23 turnovers, 5 more than Roxana. The Knights made 20 of 45 shots from the field.
Nonetheless, MELHS forged in front 43-32 with 5:17 to go. Roxana closed to within 45-37 on Kreutztrager’s trey, but Paitz countered with a 3-pointer seconds later and the Knights closed out their win.
“We played pretty good defense,” Stock said.
Talbert said, “We made a run at them late in the game, but we didn’t take care of the ball and that can take the air out of you a little bit. Each possession counts."
It’s another nonconference game for the Shells on Thursday. They’ll travel to Hlafka Hall for a date with the Bunker Hill Minutemaids. Roxana has yet to play a home game. The Shells are at Staunton on Dec. 7 prior to entertaining Litchfield on Dec. 10.
METRO EAST LUTHERAN 52, ROXANA 43
Roxana 12 13 7 11 — 43
MELHS 11 14 13 14 — 52
Roxana (2-3) – Sara Kruetztrager 13, Emma Lucas 6, Abby Palen 6, Hannah Rexford 18. 2FG-17 3FG-1 FT-6 PF-14
MELHS (2-2) – Audrey Paitz 11, Karly Schley 6, Abby Yurchuck 5, Hannah Landers 5, Ellen Schulte 6, Maddie Stewart 2, Ashlee Robinson 7, Sami Kastings 7, Suzannah Jerek 2. 2FG-14 3FG-5 FT-6 PF-17