BOILING SPRINGS — For the last seven minutes and six seconds of the fourth quarter, Boiling Springs couldn’t buy a basket. Not from the field, nor the foul line.
But the Bubblers had built up enough of a cushion, 10 points, through the first three quarters, and their defense stifled any hopes of a Big Spring comeback as they sent the Bulldogs to their first divisional loss, 34-28, in Mid-Penn Colonial play on Friday evening.
Boiling Springs (3-10, 3-4 Colonial) employed a swarming zone defense that caused turnovers and wreaked havoc as Big Spring matched their lowest offensive output of the season. The Bulldogs tried to force the ball into the teeth of the zone sometimes with little success, and when they did find themselves with open looks, they couldn’t convert the shots.
“We really worked on Wednesday and Thursday on the proper rotations in that zone,” Boiling Springs head coach Marisa Elliot said. “We did really well, and we had our hands up. We don’t have size height-wise, but I have a lot of kids that will put themselves on the floor.”
The Bubblers started strong building an 11-5 lead early in the game, but Big Spring closed the first quarter on a 5-0 run courtesy of a 3-pointer and bucket in the lane from Madison Bishop. The offensive outburst cut the early deficit to one, but it was the closest the Bulldogs would get the rest of the game.
Sydney Hemler carried the Bubblers to victory as the junior finished with 16 points after scoring eight of the first 11.
“She’s the hardest working kid I’ve ever met. She’s the hardest working kid I’ve ever coached,” Elliot said about her leading scorer. “She will do anything for anyone on our team or me. She’s phenomenal. I don’t know how to explain her other than that.”
The victory avenged a 22-point loss at Big Spring exactly a month ago and kicked off the second half of conference play as the Bubblers have now won three of their last five games.
“The fact that we beat the number one team in the conference means we can compete with anybody,” Hemler said. “It just feels really good and it boosts the team morale a lot. It’s just an exciting win.”
Big Spring (9-3, 6-1) was led by Bishop who scored seven points, all before the break, as the senior played with foul trouble the after picking up her third personal in the waning minutes of the first half.
Boiling Springs had plenty of opportunities to ice the game from the free-throw line in the final quarter, but a woeful performance from the charity stripe kept Big Spring’s hopes alive as the Bubblers finished 7-for-21 for the game.
“Typically we shoot about 80 a night at practice,” Elliot said. “Last night we were prepping so we ended up shooting only about 20. When I left practice, I said we should have shot more foul shots and we didn’t.”
The Big Spring loss snapped a five-game winning streak for the Bulldogs and left Trinity as the lone remaining undefeated girls’ team in division play in the Mid-Penn Conference.
Boiling Springs and Big Spring both return to action on Tuesday evening as the Bubblers remain at home to take on Northern and the Bulldogs host Waynesboro.