James Monroe girls basketball head coach Angela Mann is a believer in playing tougher competition.
Twice this season, Mann and the Lady Mavs have agreed to play games at the last minute due to late cancellations.
Monday afternoon, James Monroe stepped on Lester Raines Court inside the Walker Convocation Center on the campus of West Virginia State University with limited notice for the daunting task of battling Gilmer County.
The No. 2-ranked Titans, who were scheduled to play South Charleston before it withdrew from the event, played up to their billing in a 61-33 win over the Mavs.
“They were desperately seeking a game and I told (head coach Amy Chapman) we would give them a game,” Mann said. “They have a lot more state tournament experience than us, but it gives us a good game.”
James Monroe trailed by two after one quarter and by just one following a basket from Aleigha Hill 30 seconds into the second quarter.
The next three minutes were a grinder with both defenses refusing to give up points before foul trouble changed the complexion of the game for the Mavericks.
After holding 6-foot-4 sophomore Ava Dobbins in check through the first 12 minutes, Abby Mathis picked up her third foul and had to sit the remainder of the half.
“I brag on my guards all the time, but I was real proud of my bigs,” Mann said. “Abby is improving, she is still fouling some, but she is really getting more confident and we are seeing more out of her. That is a good thing going into tournaments.”
Leading 16-11 when Mathis went to the bench, Gilmer County used a 10-0 over the last three minutes to separate the game and lead 26-14 at halftime.
During the first 16 minutes of the contest, the Titans had 14 more shots and 15 offensive rebounds. Making things tougher for James Monroe was the fact that it had just four made field goals in 18 attempts.
“I think the difference in the second quarter was rebounding and we couldn’t find our offense. The third quarter we found our offense a little bit, but the girls played hard” Mann said.
A score to open the second half by Mary Beth Meadows broke a nearly eight-minute field goal drought and a basket by Rileigh Jackson at the 5:59 mark pulled the Mavs inside single digits at 29-20.
Unfortunately for the ladies from Monroe County, the final six minutes of the third quarter did not go their way.
When the horn sounded to end the period, Gilmer County had mounted a 17-6 run for a 46-26 lead.
“They are a really good team,” Mann said. “They are undefeated and there is a reason why. I keep saying, it is good to play up. We are trying to get ready for that tournament time and we are getting there.”
Allie Ellyson led Gilmer with 19 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals. Dobbins tallied 17 points and had eight blocks.
Maggie Boroski had nine points and six rebounds for the Mavs, while Meadows and Mya Dunlap had seven points each.
James Monroe is back in action Tuesday night at Class AAAA Greenbrier East.