Kirtland used a second-half rally to erase a 10-point deficit on the way to a 34-33 win at Grand Valley on Tuesday.
The Hornets never led in the game until the final minute.
“These girls have grit,” said Kirtland coach Matt Ridgeway. “After the Cornerstone Christian game, we noticed what we can hang our hat on. You don’t really know what’s in the tank until you are put in a position when there isn’t much left. We just kept fighting.”
Grand Valley’s Kaelyn Hart hit a pair of 3-pointers and added a free throw as the Mustangs jumped out to an 11-8 lead in the first quarter.
The Hornets pulled to within 17-15 at the break but Grand Valley dominated the early goings in the third quarter and built a double-digit lead.
That’s when Kirtland’s Corinne Greenlee willed the Hornets back into the game with five of her nine points in the final minutes of the third quarter to cut Grand Valley’s lead to 28-26 heading into the fourth.
“Corinne Greenlee had a massive spurt at the end of the third to cut it to two right before the buzzer,” Ridgeway said. “That honestly gave us a chance.”
Now within striking range, the Hornets set a goal to limit Grand Valley’s production in the fourth quarter.
“We felt if they score 34 or more, they win,” Ridgeway said. “That’s exactly what we said in the huddle and these kids only gave up 33. We didn’t do anything much different, we just got stops that led to easier baskets.”
Kirtland’s Emily Ridgeway got hot in the fourth quarter and scored six of her game-high 15 in the frame.
“Emily’s offensive production was big because our offense was limited all night,” Coach Ridgeway said. “They do a good job of sagging and taking up space. We started to move the ball more and attack in a direct line versus sideline-to-sideline. Emily got more comfortable as the game progressed and hit a big layup to put us up by one with a minute to go. Natalie (Glowe) had a big screen to get her free.”
Ridgeway and the Hornets started the game out of sync but found their rhythm in the second half to pull out the win.
“This was a very big game for us to win, especially on the road since they came out tough in the first half,” she said. “We started off very slow and turned it over a lot but after we got in the groove we started to score and get stops. It was definitely a fun game to play in.”
Greenlee had much to do with the Hornets’ success in the second half.
“Corrine Greenlee did very well driving the ball and kicking it out and that gave the other four players open looks and shots,” Emily Ridgeway said. “A win like this helps us look forward to the next game and see what little things we can work on during practice to improve on the next game.”
Greenlee’s contribution to the win also included nine points. Kennedy Boyd contributed with seven, Nora Withrow added two, and Kristiana Katic scored one point in the win.
“I’m so proud of the girls, all of them,” Coach Ridgeway said. “They have been a Joy. Tuesday night, league game, away–you always take the win if you can no matter what it looked like.”
Hart led Grand Valley with 13 points. Carly James also scored in double figures with 11.