TRIAL BY FIRE
No. 4 SCC handles spunky Hawks by 16
JEWELL — Makena Galetich is a bit of a unicorn — a tough-as-nails freshman that keeps her emotions in check regardless of the situation.
Whether she’s getting trapped in the corner — a situation she experienced more times than she probably would have liked Tuesday night — or burying a 3-pointer from the wing, the reaction is always the same: calm and composed.
“You see girls that have played for four years that can’t control their emotions like she does,” South Hamilton head coach Mark Henderson said of his rookie point guard. “She’s a tough kid and a dream to coach really because anything you ask her to do, she does it. She doesn’t roll her eyes, she doesn’t question it, she just does it.”
Galetich and her South Hamilton teammates should take solace in one thing — much better days are ahead.
Facing a ranked team for the second time in as many outings, the Hawks again faltered against pressure defense to the tune of 35 turnovers in a 54-38 loss to No. 4 (Class 2A) South Central Calhoun on Coach Jim Marsh Court. The Titans piled up 24 steals and went on enough spurts to eventually put the game away midway through the fourth quarter.
But it wasn’t easy for SCC (3-0), which won its first two outings by an average of 42 points. South Hamilton (0-2) stayed within arm’s length throughout and got as close as eight following Galetich’s second triple of the contest with 5:50 remaining. The Titans answered with an 11-1 run over the next 4:10.
Galetich was maybe the biggest reason why South Hamilton hung in contention. Despite constant hounding from baseline to baseline, she poured in a game-high 16 points to go along with nine rebounds and four steals. Caleigh Hewitt added 12 points, 10 of which came in the first half, and six caroms. Zoey Duns collected a game-high 10 rebounds and also notched four points.
The turnovers and misses at the free throw line — South Hamilton connected on just 38 percent of its attempts (8 of 21) — had Henderson lowering his head afterward, however. Too many times, the Hawks failed to move the ball past half court, and the mistakes led to a number of easy buckets in transition for the Titans.
“I knew we had a lot (of turnovers), but (35) is an ungodly number,” he said. “This could very well be the best team we play all year and its kind of trial by fire for the young girls. But as long as they can keep their heads up and stay positive through these first couple of games, they’re only going to improve from it if they keep the right attitudes.”
The never-give-in demeanor of Galetich rubbed off on her teammates. SCC rained in three 3-pointers on consecutive possessions in the second quarter to build a 12-point lead, and yet South Hamilton rallied with a 5-0 run to end the half to get within seven, 26-19. The Titans pushed their cushion to 13 in the third quarter, but the Hawks again answered the bell and trimmed the gap entering the final period.
Hustle, Henderson says that was the key.
“The competitive level is high right now,” he said. “Our execution is not there right now, but I really like their energy level and they’re playing together. They’re genuinely playing for each other, so that’s exciting to see.”
Hewitt carried South Hamilton early on. She hit three early buckets on pick and roll plays to give the Hawks a 6-2 lead and forced SCC out of its man-to-man defense. Henderson says continuing to feed his junior forward in the post will be a focus moving forward.
“In the first half, when we got into our offense and the pick and roll with Caleigh, it worked,” he said. “We had a few times where I thought we took some quick outside shots … we had some opportunities to get it into Caleigh where we didn’t.”
Ashlyn Erickson, another freshman, came off the bench and notched four points for the Hawks. Mackenzy Grady drilled one bucket and dished out a team-high five assists.
Riley Batta led SCC with 15 points; she was one of six Titans to knock down a 3. Chloe Judisch buried a pair of triples and scored seven points.
Judisch and Batta combined for 13 steals.
SC Calhoun 54, South Hamilton 38
Tuesday at Jewell
South Central Calhoun (3-0) — Sophie McKinney 1 0-0 3, Addisyn Korleski 0 0-0 0, Riley Batta 5 4-4 15, Sayer Steig 2 0-1 4, Sally Musselman 2 0-0 6, Kylee Schleisman 2 1-2 6, Brielle Korleski 2 0-0 4, Ashley Hanks 1 0-0 3, Chloe Judisch 3 0-0 7, Emma Anderson 2 2-8 6. Totals: 20 7-15 54.
South Hamilton (0-2) — Paige Evans 0 0-0 0, Makena Galetich 3 8-12 16, Kate Barkema 0 0-0 0, Caleigh Hewitt 6 0-0 12, Mackenzy Grady 1 0-1 2, Aspen Wibholm 0 0-5 0, Zoey Duns 2 0-2 4, Ashlyn Erickson 2 0-1 4, Grace Neuberger 0 0-0 0. Totals: 14 8-21 38.
SC Calhoun 14 12 14 14 — 54
S. Hamilton 8 11 11 8 — 38
3-point field goals — SCC 7 (Musselman 2, McKinney, Batta, Schleisman, Hanks, Judisch), SH 2 (Galetich 2). Rebounds — SH 41 (Duns 10, Galetich 9, Erickson 7, Hewitt 6). Steals — SH 13 (Galetich 4). Assists — SH 11 (Grady 5, Evans 4). Turnovers — SH 35. Team fouls — SCC 21, SH 12. Fouled out — none.