JEROME, Idaho – The Elko girls basketball team’s season outcome will rely heavily on its ability to improve on the offensive end of the floor and put the ball in the hoop.
Pretty hard for a team to win when it is held to single digits in every quarter.
The Lady Indians struggled mightily to score Thursday during the Jerry Callen Memorial Tournament in Jerome, Idaho, falling to the hosting Lady Tigers of Jerome by a final score of 44-31.
Elko scored the first two points of the game from the line, gaining a pair of freebies from senior Gabe Rowley.
Senior Jordan Hill answered with a jumper from the short corner for the Lady Tigers.
Jerome went up 4-2 on an easy finish inside by sophomore Mercedes Bell.
The Lady Indians cut the deficit in half with a free throw by junior Alexis Elquist, and Elko took a 5-4 lead when she made a nifty pump fake and drove the left side of the key for a deuce.
Senior Tiffani Warren tied the game with a free throw for Jerome.
The Lady Indians gained a 7-5 advantage on a follow-up bucket from the right block by senior Lexi Baum, but the Lady Tigers seized a one-point lead on a three by Warren.
Senior Lauryn Drake buried one of the worst shots in basketball for Elko, nailing a deep jumper with her foot on the arc for a two-point jumper and a 9-8 lead.
Elko could not take advantage of consecutive blocks by senior Sariah Pulley and Rowley, missing a layup and turning the ball over.
The Lady Indians ended the frame with an airball.
After the first, Elko clung to a one-point advantage of 9-8.
Junior Brenna Hendrix pushed the lead to two with a free throw, but Jerome tied the game with a perfect trip to the line by sophomore Abriana Hurtado.
Elko quickly went up three with a triple from the left wing by Pulley on an assist from Rowley.
The Lady Tigers beat Elko’s press with regularity, leading to a free throw by Bell.
Myers knocked down a free throw and cut the lead to one, as Elko was not stopping the ball high enough, committing fouls as the Lady Tigers drove to the cup.
Junior Phoebe Fagoaga made a free throw for Elko, but Jerome took a one-point lead on a deep three by senior Kailey Harrison from the right side.
The Lady Indians regained a one-point advantage on a pretty finish by Baum, who drove left and moved back to the middle and went off-glass in the lane.
Elko went up two with a free throw by sophomore Katie Ross, and Baum drew a charge on the defensive end.
A dropped pass in the left corner resulted in a turnover, and Warren penetrated the Elko defense along the right baseline for a strong bucket to tie the game.
The Lady Tigers closed the half with some gusto and some disappointment, as Jerome broke the Elko press with five seconds remaining and Harrison splashed a long triple from the left wing – but the horn sounded before the release.
At the break, the ballgame was knotted up at 17-all.
The third quarter was the swinging point, the frame that propelled Jerome and derailed Elko.
The Lady Tigers put on a post-passing clinic, using penetration and diagonal passes across the key.
Sophomore Grace Gjaltema-Capps notched consecutive buckets on a feed from sophomore Gracie Anderson and a cross-key look for a 21-17 lead.
Hurtado nailed a long two, Anderson pulled the string on a triple and Gjaltema-Capps went for consecutive buckets for the second time in the period – scoring in transition and from a gorgeous pass from Hurtado against Elko’s rotation.
Jerome ripped off a 13-0 lead and went to the high side by a score of 30-17.
Elko’s stagnant offense finally scored after more than a four-minute dry spell, Ross making a strong move to her right and baking a shot off the glass.
Pulley followed with a free throw, but Harrison dropped her second three of the game for the Lady Tigers.
Drake used a hesitation dribble to create space and score in the paint for the Lady Indians, following with a put-back bucket – trimming the lead to single digits.
Jerome broke Elko’s press once again and found Myers for a layup to close the quarter.
After three, the game had gotten away from Elko – trailing 35-24.
To start the fourth, Baum made a great pass from a double team to a cutting teammate but the Lady Indians missed several uncontested bunnies from the block.
Elquist pulled the trigger quickly from the right wing and cut the lead to eight with a three, but Elko’s zone defense was chewed up by a pass to the high post from Hurtado to Myers – who faced the rim and buried a 10-footer.
Elquist followed with a sweet runner from the right side, but Jerome went up 11 on a trey by Bell.
Elko went with a give-and-go, Elquist the recipient of a Rowley pass for a layup from the left.
Trailing by nine, time not in Elko’s favor, the Lady Indians gave up offensive rebounds and waited too long to start fouling to put Jerome in the bonus.
Inexplicably, the Lady Indians sent six players on the floor to play defense and were called for a technical foul, senior Nicole Cook splashing both attempts.
Cook then received a wide-open look for a layup on the break from a pass by Warren to close the game, and Jerome claimed a 13-point victory over Elko by a final score of 44-31.
Elquist led Elko with 10 points, followed by six points from Drake.
Pulley and Baum each finished with four points for the Lady Indians.
ELKO – 9 – 8 – 7 – 7 – 31 Total
JEROME – 8 – 9 – 18 – 9 – 44 Total
The Lady Indians crossed to the consolation side of the bracket and lost to Rigby on Thursday night by a lopsided margin.
No details or final score were reported and Elko coach Kaaren Ross was unavailable for comment.