By Gib Snyder III
DUNKIRK - A slow start and a slow finish doomed the Dunkirk Lady Marauders on Friday as they dropped a 50-38 decision to visiting Southwestern during Division 1 West girls basketball action.
Down seven - 38-31 - at the start of the fourth quarter, Dunkirk was unable to close the gap to more than five, as Alex Sullivan scored eight of her game-high 17 points down the stretch to help give the Lady Trojans the win.
"She got in early foul trouble," Southwestern coach Anne Beck said of Sullivan. "So she pretty much was out and I had to tell her she's not going to get them all when she went into (the game) in the fourth quarter. She had to relax and let the offense come to her. And she did. She was very aggressive to the rim and she's got a nice shot."
Dunkirk managed just seven points over the game's final eight minutes after playing competitive basketball in the second and third quarters, when it outscored Southwestern, 24-21.
"We have to play four quarters," Dunkirk coach Sarah Burnett said. "Every game that we've played this year, we've played two really great quarters, or three really great quarters, but we haven't strung four quarters together. So, moving forward, as we finish our first round of league play and go into our second round, we really have to compile four quarters, put them together, and I think once that clicks, we'll be fine."
Part of the trouble early on for Dunkirk was its inability to break Southwestern's full-court press, which helped the Lady Trojans build a 17-7 lead after the first quarter.
"Often times, because we do have a young team and we don't have a lot of varsity experience, when we come out in a game, even though we're expecting the press, we tense up," Burnett said. "And we don't execute the press."
Andrea O'Boyle and Emily Wuebboldt had four points each to pace the Lady Trojans in the first quarter.
"We wanted to apply a lot of pressure," Beck said. "We wanted to have our defense be our offense. It was the first time we've really had the chance to do it, so I was pleased with it."
The second quarter was a different story however, as the Lady Marauders outscored the Lady Trojans, 14-9, to close the gap to 26-21 at the break.
"We were missing a rotation on our defense," Beck noted. "So (Dunkirk) had some good put-backs and they found the open girl. There's always going to be one open girl in that defense and they found her. So, we had to make a couple of adjustments to fix that."
"We didn't make any adjustments," Burnett said of her team's play in the second quarter. "We just executed."
A big reason for Dunkirk's turnaround was the play of Sidney Charles off the bench, as she scored six of her eight points on the night while teammate Sarah Hanlon added five of her team-high 15 in the second as well.
"When Sidney plays aggressive and she takes it hard to the basket and she crashes the boards, she's an invaluable asset to our team," Burnett said.
"Sarah had a great all around game," Burnett continued. "One thing we have preached to her is she can't get into foul trouble. And (Friday) she didn't get into foul trouble and she proved to be a great asset both offensively and defensively."
In the third quarter, the Lady Marauders cut the Lady Trojans' lead to two, 30-28, with 3:27 left to go on a layup by Samaya Toomer, but that would be as close as they would get the rest of the night.
"Because we turned the ball over so much and because we came out so flat, we kind of got ourselves in a hole that we couldn't get out of," Burnett said. "We cut the lead to two, but it seemed that once it got back to five, we couldn't really get over that hump. We definitely have to come out (at the beginning of) games stronger and more prepared mentally, so we don't have to crawl our way back into them."
NOTES: Hanlon added six rebounds to go with her team-high 15 points ... Alexis Clark had a team-high eight rebounds for Dunkirk ... Wuebboldt finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and three steals for Southwestern ...