Blue Ridge Girls Basketball Beats Shelbyville (and Referees?) 55-48 in Opening Game of Okaw Valley Holiday Tournament

BETHANY, Ill. -- Depending on one's perspective, the Lady Knights faced merely the Lady Rams or went up against the referees as well.

Whatever one's perspective may be, here are the facts:

Blue Ridge did not attempt a single free throw until 5:52 left in the fourth quarter and shot a total of five foul shots, making four. Meanwhile, Shelbyville had attempted 16 shots from the foul line at the 5:52 mark in the fourth quarter and finished the game making 14-of-20 free throws.

With 1:14 left in the first half, the Lady Knights got called for seven fouls before the Lady Rams were called for one. And at one point in the fourth quarter, Blue Ridge led 8-3 in the foul category for the second half.

"We didn't have anything called for us in our advantage," Blue Ridge coach Stephanie Schroeder said. "We needed the fouls called on them, too, just like they were calling them on us. It kind of hurts the game when they go to the free-throw line five times as many times as you do."

Despite the one-sided foul trouble, the Lady Knights escaped with a 55-48 victory over Shelbyville in the first round of the Okaw Valley Holiday Tournament.

"[I] just kept reminding them that we're in control," Schroeder, who was called for a technical foul with 4:41 left in the fourth quarter, said. "We can't control what the refs are going to call. We can't take it out on the other girls; it's not their fault."

Melinda Wilson (pictured above) finished the game as Blue Ridge's leading scorer with 16 points. She scored the first two baskets for her team via turnover-generated fastbreak layups.

Twelve of Wilson's points were scored in the first half. The last two of those points were scored on a fastbreak as well, as she pulled up for a jump shot at the buzzer to put her team up 25-22 at halftime.

Wilson also stole the ball seven times and recorded five assists. Four of her steals occurred in the first half.

In the third quarter, it was Jamison Brandt's turn to lead the scoring, as she scored eight of her 12 points to help the Lady Knights outscore the Lady Rams 16-13 in the quarter and go into the fourth with a 41-35 lead.

After Shelbyville's Courtney Schultz tied the game at 35-35 in the third quarter, Brandt (pictured above) final field goal of the quarter put Blue Ridge back up and started a 10-0 run that continued into the fourth quarter.

The run ended with the Lady Knights' first two free throws of the game, when Korrie Gilbert sank two of her four foul shots. Gilbert finished the game making all four of her free-throw attempts and with six points.

 "We dealt with what was given to us with the fouls and different things like that, maintained the lead and did what we were supposed to," Schroeder said. "It was kind of nice to be on the other end of the side of controlling the ball and having the lead."

Jacquelyn O'Neal (pictured below) took over the scoring for Blue Ridge in the fourth quarter, tallying eight of her 15 points to help her team pull away with a 14-13 advantage in that quarter.

O'Neal finished the game with six rebounds and five blocks to go along with her 15 points. She also tied with Gilbert for the team lead in assists with seven.

"They do a good job just working together," Schroeder said. "If they can pass it to somebody else that's going to get an easier shot and make it, then they're more than willing to do that. We don't have ones who are selfish that are going to take it every time for themselves. They're looking for everybody else. We have good teamwork."

For the Lady Rams, Katelyn Duckett was the game's leading scorer with 19 points, including 10-of-11 shooting from the free-throw line.

With the win, the Lady Knights (6-7) will play against Lexington, who beat Okaw Valley 56-31, on Friday in the quarterfinals of the tournament. The game will start at 6:30 p.m.

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