MONTICELLO — First it was Allie Hislope, then Elise Pontious, then Layne Buzan.
Monticello had a Star for a Quarter on Wednesday in holding off Neoga 55-52 in first-round action of the 16th Sages Holiday Hoopla.
Hislope grabbed six first-quarter rebounds as Monticello built a 16-13 lead. Pontious collected eight of her game-high 18 rebounds in the second period as the Sages maintained their lead, 30-28, at intermission.
In the fourth quarter, which started with Neoga leading 42-41, Buzan had eight points and four rebounds as Monticello rallied for the win.
“Everyone chips in,” Monticello coach Dave Ellars said. “We have no one averaging in double figures.”
Buzan’s key play occurred after a timeout with 12.9 seconds remaining. She stole the inbounds pass and was fouled while attempting a breakaway layup. She made both free throws, increasing the Monticello lead to 55-51 with 8.6 seconds left.
“She’s really quick and likes to play defense,” Ellars said.
The Sages’ win came against the school that has more tournament titles (six) than any other in the history of the event.
“We’re getting better,” said Ellars, whose 3-12 team has suffered losses by margins of one, two and five points. “All I ask is, ‘Play hard and believe in yourselves.’
“They want to win as badly as anyone and are very coachable.”
Pontious had 15 points, Buzan 14, Chrissy Gadbury 10 and Megan Garrett nine for Monticello. Buzan also cleared seven rebounds.
Tuscola 25, Ridgeview 24
Tuscola’s Tim Kohlbecker was so concerned about how his team would play following three days without practice that he scheduled a morning workout Wednesday at the high school.
“We came in for an hour and 15 minutes in practice gear,” he said. “We shot, dribbled and ran our offense.”
In a game of contrasts, the Warriors (9-2) built a 10-point halftime lead, withstood a second-half scoreless drought of nearly 11 minutes and edged the Mustangs when Erin Weaver split a pair of free throws to break a tie with 1.8 seconds left.
Until Weaver stepped to the line for the game-winning shot, the two teams collectively had attempted two free throws, both by Weaver with 16.8 seconds left in the first half.
The highlight, Kohlbecker said, was getting a win, though he added, “It doesn’t feel good. We set girls’ basketball back 20 years.
“Our timing was off. Our cuts were off, and our shooting ... we had good looks, but they didn’t go in.”
Tuscola’s Amber Miller scored a game-high eight points but was more impressive on defense, Kohlbecker said. She was assigned to guard Paige Jones, a 15.8 scorer through 12 games and the player who stands third in the area in three-pointers (31).
Jones managed two points against Tuscola.
“Amber did an outstanding job,” Kohlbecker said.
Until Weaver hit the first of two free throws with 1.8 seconds left, Miller was the only Tuscola athlete to score during the final 15:09. She had two fourth-quarter baskets.
Susan Ponder scored seven points for the Warriors, and Weaver — who is on track to be Tuscola’s career leader in field goal accuracy — added six points on 2-of-9 shooting.
Rachelle Weber led Ridgeview (8-5) with seven points.
Kohlbecker praised the Mustangs’ defense saying, “Their 1-2-2 is very active, and they smelled our timidness.”
Most of the blame, the coach said, should be directed at him.
“I have such good kids that if we struggle, then as their coach I have not prepared them well enough, and I have to do a better job,” Kohlbecker said.
Stark County 60, GCMS 13
Annie Schultz’s three-pointer lifted GCMS into a 3-2 lead 90 seconds into the Falcons’ game against Stark County, but the Rebels took control with a 27-2 run and pulled away.
“We didn’t do anything right offensively or anything right defensively, and when that happens you get beat as bad as we did,” GCMS coach Kyle Bielfeldt said.
Schultz led the Falcons (1-10) with three points. The team’s top rebounder was Jillian Donoho with six.
“The good thing about a tournament like this is we get a chance to come back and redeem ourselves,” Bielfeldt said.
Stark County 57, Monticello 40
In a game between first-round winners, Stark County (11-4) held an edge in all four quarters and beat the Sages. The teams combined to make 10 of 11 free throws.
Buzan and Pontious each had 11 points to share scoring honors for Monticello, which was without Hislope. She suffered an ankle injury in the day’s first game.
Neoga 49, GCMS 37
Schultz and Taylor Boma had nine points apiece for the Falcons, who were 5 of 13 from the free throw line.