By TIM BIRNEY
Valley Sports Report
TIOGA CENTER - Tioga got off to a quick start and cruised to a 60-36 win over Union Springs here Friday night in IAC Small School girls basketball action.
After putbacks on the offensive boards by juniors Chloe Bellis and Giovanna Rossi gave Tioga a 4-0 lead in the opening minute of the game, steals resulted in the next two buckets - a short jumper by sophomore Olivia Ayres, and a lay-up by Ayres off a steal and assist from Bellis - to make it 8-0 two minutes into the game.
"We watched a little film on (Union Springs) and noticed they had a little trouble with pressure," said Tioga coach Joe Robinson. "We haven't pressed a whole lot this year, but we though we'd give it a try.
We got a couple steals, got out to a quick 8-, 10-point lead, and that gives you confidence," he noted.
"We shot the ball fairly well tonight, too," added Robinson. "We've missed a lot of shots around the bucket this year, but tonight we made them."
Riley Cunningham put Union Springs on the board with 3:26 remaining in the first quarter to close the gap to 11-2, but Rossi answered moments later with a shot jumper.
Buckets by Brittany Waters and Renee Park trimmed the deficit to 13-6 with 1:35 remaining, but that was as close as the Lady Wolves would get the remainder of the night.
Bellis knocked down a long jumper with 37 seconds left in the first quarter, and Rossi added a fast-break lay-up, off a feed from Bellis, with 8 seconds remaining to give the Lady Tigers a 17-6 lead after the initial eight minutes of the game.
Senior Rebekah Richter knocked down a shot in the low post, and moments later made two free throws to give Tioga a 25-9 lead with 6:15 left in the first half.
Bellis connected on a baseline jumper with 3:39 left in the half to give Tioga a 20-point lead, at 29-9, on its way to a 32-14 halftime lead.
Union Springs closed the gap to 36-22 early in the second half, but the Lady Tigers answered with a 12-0 run to take a 48-22 lead with 2:12 remaining in the third quarter.
Ayres canned a 3-pointer with 25 seconds remaining in the half, and following a Union Springs free throw with 8 seconds left, she drained another 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Tioga a 54-25 lead entering the final eight minutes.
Sophomore Eve Wood knocked down a 3-pointer in the opening moments of the fourth quarter to give the Lady Tigers their biggest lead of the game, at 57-25.
Ayres led Tioga with 17 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, five steals, four assists, and three rebounds, while Wood had 13 points, including two 3-pointers, four assists, and three rebounds, and Bellis had 12 points, 12 rebounds, four steals, and a blocked shot.
Richter had eight points and four boards in the win, while Rossi added six points and five rebounds, and sophomore Ari Manwaring chipped in with four points and 12 rebounds
Park led Union Springs with 14 points and Grace Perkins added 10 points - all in the second half.
Tioga, now 3-9, hosts Candor Tuesday night.
IN PHOTO 1: Tioga's Chloe Bellis. ... PHOTOS BY TIM BIRNEY.
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