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GOSHEN - The steep learning curve of playing without their top two players continued for the North Oldham Lady Mustangs Monday in a 46-42 loss to Gallatin County.
NOHS has been forced to open the season without starting guard Emily Crutcher, who had her tonsils removed last week, and forward Erin Overcash, who tore ligaments in her ankle. Both are expected to be out another two weeks.
"We're the walking wounded right now," NOHS coach Nancy Martin said. "Pretty much 85 percent of our scoring in on the bench and will be for the next two weeks."
The loss dropped the Lady Mustangs to 0-3 with the last two losses coming by a total of six points - giving Martin some reason for optimism.
"We haven't played to our potential even without those two year this year," Martin said. "Tonight, though, I thought was the first time we looked like the team I have seen in practice. We seemed to have a spark tonight and came back at them several times after we got down. I have to give them credit, they didn't hang their heads and quit when it looked like the easy thing to do."
The Lady Mustangs did fall behind several times only to fight their way back into contention. The last came when they cut the lead to 39-38 with 2:30 left in the game on a basket from just inside the foul line from Angela Russo.
Gallatin responded with a free throw from Christina Valsinger to go up 40-38. After the teams traded turnovers, Gallatin pushed the lead to 42-38 with 1:04 left on two more free throws from Valsinger.
The Lady Mustangs cut the lead to 42-39 on a free throw from Olivia Raffli before Gallatin County gave them a chance to tie after Erikka Jones missed both shots of a double bonus.
NOHS, however, failed to convert when Raffli's 17-footer off the left side rimmed out with 12.2 seconds left. Gallatin pushed the lead to 44-39 with 2.4 seconds left on two free throws from Brooke Hill.
The Lady Mustangs cut the lead right back to two when Brittany Silberheisen took a pass just beyond midcourt and immediately turned and banked in a three-pointer, leaving 1.3 seconds left on the clock after an NOHS timeout.
Gallatin County was able to in-bounds the ball to Alex Morris who was fouled with three-tenths of a second left.
Morris hit both free throws for the final margin and NOHS was able to get off a shot in the remaining time.
The comeback was the final one for the Lady Mustangs who came back to either tie the game or go up by one from at least seven points down on three different occasions.
Raffli, a sophomore guard, led the Lady Mustangs with 13 points including six straight to open the game after NOHS fell behind 5-0. Kelli Condren followed her with 12 points.
"Raffli has had to grow up in a hurry this year with Emily out," Martin said. "She and Kelli have been struggling some with the extra ballhandling duties, but they are and will get better. That's the biggest problem with Crutcher and Erin out, not that we don't miss their scoring, but they also handled the ball so much and especially in tight spots."
The Lady Mustangs also got 10 points and seven rebounds from 5-foot-10 sophomore center Allison Olive who continues to emerge as a player inside.
"We've got some more young ones we're going to move in," Martin said. "They are going to learn on the job."
GALLATIN COUNTY - 7 10 12 17 46 - Christina Valsinger 15, Ashley Jones 12, Brooke Hill 3, Sarah Beatty 2, Caroline Huddleston 3, Erikka Jones 3, Alex Morris 6, 46.
NOHS - 6 8 14 14 42 - Angela Russo 2, Allison Olive 10, Kelli Condren 12, Olivia Raffli 13, Brittany Silberheisen 5, 42.
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