Season wraps up for Mica Mountain Girls Hoops following loss to Peoria

Peoria — The girls basketball season has officially come to a close for the Mica Mountain Thunderbolts following Thursday’s 58-48 4A play-in round loss at Peoria. Getting off to a hot start, the Bolts went into the half leading Peoria, but struggled to make the necessary adjustments defensively to adapt to the Panthers on the court.

“I’m super proud of our girls,” Coach Alex Jackson said. “We can’t complain. It hurts, but we’re proud of them for the effort.”

Sophomore Isabella Webb wasted no time getting things rolling for the Bolts, pushing the tempo early and keeping the Panthers on their toes. Sinking a three, she gave Mica Mountain a 6-4 lead to continue building upon through the remainder of the first half.

Towards the end of the first, Peoria started picking things up defensively on the court, which in turn created more offensive opportunities. The Panthers were able to close out the first quarter with a basket from senior Britany Kogbara, cutting Mica Mountain’s lead to 15-12.

Early in the second quarter, Peoria was able to close the gap to one with a bucket from sophomore Michelle Kogbara before the Panthers were able to take a 16-15 lead. They wouldn’t hold on to it for long, though, as senior McKenna Mathie was able to get open to to sink a beautiful corner three for a 19-17 lead.

The huge shot from Mathie generated the momentum needed to help the Bolts get back on track for the remainder of the quarter. After a steal by Webb for an easy layup and another three point shot for the Bolts, Peoria called a timeout as Mica had worked to it’s biggest lead, up 26-17. After adjusting, Peoria was able to find some success again offensively, but Mica Mountain still was able to hold on to a 33-26 lead at the half.

Unfortunately for the Bolts, a rough third quarter would ultimately lead to their demise. Struggling to stop a fired up Peoria squad, the Panthers were able to tie it at 33 with a shot from sophomore Cieraka Lynch. Still scoreless coming out of the break, Mica Mountain called a timeout with 4:56 left in the third after allowing Peoria to go on an 11-0 run.

“Our defensive rotation kind of slacked in the second half,” Jackson said. “They killed us on the glass, and that let them get back in it.”

It wasn’t until there was around 3:30 seconds left to play in the third when the Bolts were finally able to break the drought, but it was too little too late. With the momentum behind the Panthers, they were able to keep pushing the lead to 47-40 at the end of the quarter.

Senior Kayda Lewis was able to open up the quarter with a bucket for Mica Mountain to bring it within five, but Peoria wasn’t letting them back in the game so easily. With time running out, the Bolts were starting to feel the pressure and it was showing on the court. In hopes of creating a last-effort push for a comeback, Jackson called a timeout with 4:31 remaining as Peoria had jumped out to a 55-42 lead.

Refusing to fold, the Bolts kept fighting until the end, despite not being able to close the gap. Leaving everything they had on the court, Mica Mountain ultimately fell to Peoria 58-48.

“We just lost to a better team tonight,” Jackson said.

It was a crushing moment for the Bolts, especially the five seniors on the team who saw the curtains close on their high school basketball careers.

“We love them,” Jackson said. “We’ve been with a lot of our seniors since they were in middle school, and they helped establish the ground roots of this program and the direction we’re heading. We’re going to miss them, but we’re family so they’re not really going anywhere.”

Noting it was a bittersweet moment, Jackson also knows how much the younger girls on the squad will benefit from the game.

“It’s our second year at varsity, and our second year in the playoffs,” Jackson said. “It hurts right now, but the experience is going to pay off down the road for some of our younger girls.”

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