DELMAR The Shaker girls basketball team had never trailed by double digits in any game this season prior to Friday's Suburban Council showdown at Bethlehem.
20 total votes.
Yet, the Lady Bison found themselves facing a 16-4 deficit five minutes into the contest.
Slowly but surely, though, Shaker (9-0 league, 10-0 overall) chipped away and eventually pulled away for a 59-49 victory over Bethlehem (6-2, 8-2).
"It was just a game of mental toughness," said Shaker senior guard Jenni Barra. "We knew we were down 16-4, but in the game of basketball, that's nothing."
"That's what good teams do," said Bethlehem coach Matt Bixby. "It's not surprising to me that they would start making their shots. It was just unfortunate that we started missing our shots."
Bethlehem was missing two key players to injuries. Junior forward Gabby Giacone was out for the third straight game with an injured ligament in her left ankle, while junior Erin O'Donnell was sidelined with a concussion.
That didn't seem to slow down the Lady Eagles early on. Sophomore Jenna Giacone and junior Olivia Hughes each scored seven points during Bethlehem's 16-4 run to open the game.
"We were making our shots, and we played tremendous defense," said Bixby.
Shaker closed the gap to 18-11 by the end of the first quarter and remained within striking distance through the second quarter. Still, Bethlehem held a 26-18 lead as the teams entered the locker room at halftime.
The Lady Bison began taking control in the third quarter. Senior guard Merrick Rowland opened the period with a three-pointer, and Barra made a pair of free throws to close the gap to 26-23. Later, junior forward Becky Rossier followed up a missed free throw by Rowland and put home the rebound to tie the score at 27-27. Rossier then gave Shaker its first lead of the night with a basket off Rowland's offensive rebound and pass.