Weak offensive efforts in the first half caused the Galion girls basketball team a 31-23 home loss against Fairbanks on Friday.
“Our biggest challenge is the little things,” said Galion girls basketball head coach Nick Vukovich. “It’s making the free throws, missing layups.”
The Lady Tigers scored only two points in the first quarter with an additional five points in the second quarter. The team went into the locker room at halftime down 19-7.
Galion made three of eight free throws in the first half. The team is struggling to translate from what it does well in practice onto the court, Vukovich said.
“If we take care of that – we can win any game,” he said. “It’s that simple.”
The Lady Tigers performed better, winning the the second half 16-12. Senior wing Taylor Valentine and junior post Natalie Rodriguez led the Tigers, each scoring six points.
Rodriguez made four of seven free throws that Friday evening, while the Tigers made eight of 18 free throws.
For the Panthers, senior Briana Gibson led all scorers with 11 points including two 3-pointers. Fairbanks had 20 offensive rebounds, while limiting Galion to 11, which has been a focus for the Panthers, Brock Oakes said.
“We’ve been undersized all year,” the Fairbanks girls basketball head coach said.
Fairbanks brought Galion’s second loss in the Mid Ohio Athletic Conference Red Division and the season. The Tigers (3-2, 0-2) lost to River Valley 75-33 last Tuesday. Friday’s defeat makes it the second lost under Vukovich, who coached the past two seasons at Ridgemont High School in Ridgeway, Hardin County.
He took over a Lady Gophers program in 2013 that was 0-23 the year before he arrived. Ridgemont finished 5-18 in his first season and 3-20 in 2014-15.
“I knew it was going to be a fight because I know what he did at Ridgemont,” Oakes said. “I really respect the type of coach he is and what he started to build at Ridgemont and so I knew that he would was going to have those kids ready to play.”
Vukovich and the team will focus on its footwork before the next game.
“If we take care of our footwork and stop turning the ball over, so we’re under control,” he said. “I think we’ll be alright.”
The Tigers will host Buckeye Valley for another conference game on Dec. 8.
Reach Klein at 419-468-1117, ext. 2048 or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.