Off night defensively costly to Excel

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Excel’s defense wasn’t up to par and too many of its shots didn’t hit the mark on Wednesday against Walker, and the result was a 48-27 loss to close out its season.

Head coach Eric Harris said Excel didn’t play up to its abilities in the game, and that fact and its mistakes kept the Lady Eagles from putting as many shots in the basket as they needed.

"I felt we had too many turnovers and that cost us,” Harris said. “You can’t turn the ball over a lot in basketball, especially in your region, and expect to win. You have to be ready to play every night, and we made a lot of mistakes, especially with our turnovers. Defensively we were not as sound as we usually are. We kind of hang our hat on our defensive play, and it’s kept us in a lot of games this year, but it didn’t tonight.

“Tonight we gave up 48 points. It’s hard for us to give up that many points and win because we do struggle offensively.”

The Lady Eagles led just briefly — jangling the scoreboard early when Rylie Boston hit a 7-foot turnaround jumper and put them up 2-0 with about half a minute gone in the ballgame.

Walker knotted the score at 2-all about 45 seconds later then took a 4-2 lead with almost four minutes left in the initial period.

Excel evened the score two possessions later with Boston’s second shot in the paint. Walker then used a 6-2 run to grab a 10-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Xena Enos scored the Lady Eagles’ last deuce of the first quarter.

Walker took over the game in the second quarter when it scored 15 points and allowed just six by Excel to take a 25-12 halftime lead. Excel’s points included a trey by Whitney Harris.

In the third period, Walker outscored its host by 12-6 to take a 37-18 lead. It used a 11-9 run to finish the game.

Harris said his team worked hard throughout the season and could reach a lot more goals before all its members graduate.

“I’m proud of the girls; I’m proud of the season,” Harris said. “I don’t believe a lot of people realize just how much we ask out of our athletes at Excel. A lot of these girls play three sports. They are also great students in the classroom. We don’t have students who just specialize in basketball or softball. I tip my hat to them.”

Excel eclipsed the old record of 10 victories by its girls basketball team during the season and then added two more victories before the season ended.

“I know 12 wins may not seem like a lot of victories to some people,” Harris added, “but with our small student body and as much of them, this is an accomplishment. I think this is a special group of ladies. It’s a privilege to work with them.”

He said he believes the Lady Eagles (12-14) can accomplish even more in the future.

“This year we started two freshmen, a sophomore and two juniors in a lot of the games,” Harris added. “That work load plays a factor. We’re kind of young and we’ve got everyone coming back. I’m proud of these girls. I hate our season ended this way. We were not at our best tonight, but I’m proud of what we did accomplish this season. We did change the culture some at Excel.”

Boston led Excel in scoring with 9 points. Also contributing offensively were Whitney Harris, 8; Enos, 4; Anna Lane Hattaway, 3; Lindsey Mauldin, 2; Kalli Beth Scheff, 1.