TOPEKA — Gracie Gilpin scored 16 points to eclipse the 1,000 career point mark and Addie Kirmer added 15, but the Emporia High women’s basketball team’s third-quarter comeback fell short in a 47-game loss -41 against Seaman Friday night.
The game was another in a series of fierce defensive battles between the two teams as the Vikings (15-5) avenged their 32-27 loss to the Spartans (15-5) on December 10.
“I’m incredibly proud,” Emporia head coach Carolyn Dorsey said. “I said to the kids, ‘I’m not happy, I’m a little frustrated.’ But man, they’ve had a great season so far and they’ve just put on a really good exhibition show to a lot of people watching some really good defensive efforts from some kids playing as hard as they can.
Both teams’ defenses were the focal point throughout the game, but perhaps never more so than in the first quarter. Seaman scored his first points 4:08 into the first period while Emporia didn’t come on the board for more than six minutes.
Gilpin scored his 1,000th career point as time ran out in the first eight minutes, tying the game at a modest 5-5.
“Defensively in the first half we were great,” Dorsey said. “Our big guys have played so well inside. I thought we got out of the perimeter as well as we could except for a few crashes.
The Spartan offense couldn’t keep up with the defense as Emporia added just five more points in the second quarter. Meanwhile, the Vikings capitalized on a few of the aforementioned rare Spartan errors to take an 18-10 lead at intermission.
Emporia’s 10 points came from Gracie Gilpin, who shot 4 of 7 in the first 16 minutes while her teammates went 0 of 9.
“We can’t win big games with Gracie being the only one to score,” Dorsey said.
The Seaman defense made it harder to score by suppressing opportunities before they were even created. Emporia turned the ball over 11 times in the first half, a painful number compared to their 10 points.
“We got sped up early,” Dorsey said. “…These were bad numbers. We had a late turnover where we just weren’t on the same page. You can’t have that this late in the game against such a good team. »
The Spartans trailed 20-10 after two minutes in the third quarter and it looked like this period would follow the pattern of the first two. But then Rebecca Snyder converted an old-school 3-point play and Gilpin and Kirmer scored back-to-back buckets to cut Seaman’s lead to 20-17 with 4:18 left in the third.
After Gilpin had another shot, Kirmer scored on a foul and tied the game 22-22 on his free throw with 2:05 left in the period.
The Vikings responded and pushed ahead 27-22 before Emporia went on a 7-0 run to take a 29-27 lead.
Seaman regained the lead by scoring the last three points of the quarter, sending the game into the fourth quarter at 30-29.
“After halftime, … Addie put her head down and said, ‘Get out of my way,'” Dorsey said. “We talked about this: ‘God, guys, put the ball under your arm and go make a fucking play.’ And Addie did that.
Dorsey also praised his other bench players because, although they struggled to score in the game, they provided valuable minutes and contributed in other important ways.
“There are nine, 10, 11 children I play with; I mean, I can’t even keep up,” she said. “I thought they came and gave us what they could. They put good screens. They kept extremely well.
But ultimately, the Spartans were unable to regain the lead in the fourth quarter. And as time ticked away, a missed shot here and an untimely turnover there slashed their chances as the Vikings converted at the free-throw line.
“A few things have gone wrong for us and a team like Seaman is too good,” Dorsey said. “We talked about having too many empty goods. We had too many empty goods and against Seaman we can’t have them.
However, despite her disappointment with the result, she recognized the game for what it was: high quality basketball between two talented defensive teams.
“It was a good game,” she said. “We fought hard. They are good. We knew it. They are talented. We knew it. … I think if you were watching tonight, I thought it was a defensive effort from both sides that was pretty damn amazing.
Gilpin became the first player Dorsey coached to score 1,000 points in her career. And while it was obviously a special occasion, Dorsey said Gilpin doesn’t care much about it because her individual accolades aren’t as important to her as team accomplishments.
“I think she probably knew (when she hit 1,000 points) — I mean, she’s not completely dumb,” she said. “But that’s what I liked was that it was not the time (to party). After the game, I said, ‘I know you don’t want to talk about it, but I’m proud of you. Good work.’ I patted her on the back and we’ll talk about it on Monday. …
“She’s a player, man. I have a lot of respect for her. I’m incredibly proud of her. … She’s worth everything and she means the world to me. I’m happy for her. She deserves it. And when we’re talking about that word ‘deserve’, she deserved it.”
With the regular season on the books, Emporia is now turning its attention to the post-season. The Spartans finished third in the 5A West substate and will likely face Valley Center next week.
Dorsey said she thinks her team’s Centennial League schedule has prepared her well for the challenge ahead and hopes Friday’s loss will motivate her players to take their preparation seriously.
“If you want to be angry, be angry on Monday,” she told the team after the game. “…As a competitor, you can be crazy all you want, but what about it? Are you improving? Are you spending more time? If you struggled inside tonight, what are you doing to fix it? If you didn’t keep well, what are you doing to fix it on Monday? »
Emporia (15-5) – 5; 5; 19; 12; – 41
Sailor (15-5) – 5; 13; 12; 17; – 47
Emporia – Gilpin 16, Kirmer 15, Peak 4, Snyder 3, Baker 3.