Charles Chaney Butler County Times Gazette USA TODAY NETWORK
EL DORADO — The Circle Lady Thunderbirds missed a runner as time expired to fall in the opening round of the 2021 Lady Cat Classic on Thursday afternoon.
Despite the loss, the fight the Lady T-Birds (10-4) showed was the real story for Circle.
They trailed by 10 in the first quarter and shot less a shade over 27 percent and missed 19 three-pointers. Yet, they still had a chance.
“I’m tremendously proud of the girls and how we fought defensively and continue to find offensively to work for scoring opportunities,” Circle head coach Brian Henry said.
Kya Thornton started the comeback for Circle, hitting a three right before the end of the third quarter. Erin Johnson followed it up with back-to-back buckets to cut the deficit to two points with 5:50 remaining in regulation.
Gardner-Edgerton responded with six consecutive points to push their lead to 36-28 with 5:31 remaining. They called a timeout, setting up Circle’s final push.
Adie White nailed a three and Thornton countered with one of her own to bring it to within two. Thornton hit a jumper from the left side for the tie with 3:24 remaining to cap off an 8-0 run.
Abri Leiker sank a jumper with less than two minutes remaining as the Blazers took a 2-point lead.
After Gardner-Edgerton missed six consecutive free throws down the stretch, the Lady T-Birds still had an opportunity. They gathered a rebound off a miss from Gardner-Edgerton’s Brenley Cunningham and rushed down the court where it appeared GE was going to foul but nothing was called and the shot rimmed off.
The Blazers only had four fouls at the time, giving them an opportunity to foul and not sending the Lady T-Birds to the line.
“We didn’t have a great practice yesterday, so I was a little worried on our motivation,” Henry said. “The girls just proved that they were ready to flip the switch and come out here and battle.”
Thornton finished with 13 points for Circle. Katie Coble and Johnson each had seven points. White finished with five for the Lady T-Birds.
Leiker had a game-high 15 points for the Blazers. Circle will now await the loser of Augusta vs. Mill Valley on Friday afternoon at 3 pm
“We’ve talked to the girls about that that we’ve come here several years and we won that first game but then you lose back-to-back (games) and you feel even a little bit more depleted,” Henry said. “So, we challenged the girls. This is a good opportunity to play on this side. Let’s try to go to one now that this tournament this weekend, and really leave here on high note.”
Charles Chaney has been the Sports Editor for the Butler County Times-Gazette since Aug. 2019. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter at @ChuckChaneyBCTG.
Gardner-Edgerton 38, Circle 37
Gardner Edgerton — 15;6;9;8 — 38
Circle — 10;5;9;13 — 37
GE (3-8): Leiker 15, Moss 12, Cunningham 5, Markos 4, Hofer 1, Bojanski 1
Circle (10-4): Thornton 13, Coble 7, Johnson 7, White 5, Shauls 4, Seivley 1.