Perfect season for Talawanda girls basketball comes to an end


Photo by Jack Mueller

Senior Guard Taylor Farris (#11) leads the offense for Talawanda.

By Jack Mueller

The Talawanda High School girls basketball team saw its perfect season come to an end Feb. 21 at Lakota East High School, as the Brave fell just short in a heartbreaker 50-49 to Mount Notre Dame High School. Talawanda led 49-48 with 2.7 seconds on the clock, but a buzzer-beating layup by Mount Notre Dame guard Kailee Bransford sealed the win for the Cougars in the third round of the state tournament.

“It was a tough game, we knew we had to play our best…in the end it came down to one play,” said Talawanda Head Coach Mary Jo Huismann after the final buzzer. “As soon as we started we knew it was going to be close, and that it was going to be tough, but we hung in there.”

Talawanda Head Coach Mary Jo Huismann says her team hung in the game till the end. Photo by Jack Mueller

In the opening minutes, it did not look like the Brave would be able to keep pace, as the Cougars jumped out to an early 12-4 lead behind two 3-pointers from sophomore Grace Pitzer. The lead would not last long as two Taylor Farris layups and a Kylee Fears’ basket-and-one spearheaded a 11-1 run to close the quarter up 13-12 and get the rowdy Talawanda fans out of their seats. 

The contest would remain close for the entire second quarter and both teams would create their own highlight plays. Mount Notre Dame adjusted to Fears’ scoring with two blocks in the paint, which led to a three for Notre Dame junior Maya Corsmo, giving the Cougars the lead. The Brave would answer in kind, as Fears responded to the Cougar’s tough interior defense by stepping out behind the arc and hitting a deep 3-pointer, and Farris set up Myah Keene with a slick behind the back pass. The Cougars went on a 7-0 run in the final two minutes behind another three from Corsmo, but a three pointer with two seconds on the clock by Grayce Sieg tied the game at 25 at the half. 

The story of the third quarter was the 3-pointer, as each team traded big shots but neither was able to pull away. Sieg hit another shot from behind the arc to start the half for Talawanda, which was immediately matched by a Bransford 3-pointer at the other end. Taylor Farris kept the 3-point parade rolling before picking up her fourth foul, a technical. The technical allowed the Cougars to take a 38-35 lead, before another three, this time by McKenna Weekley, tied the game at 38 heading into the fourth quarter.

The Talawanda Brave take on Mt. Notre Dame in the post-season tournament. Photo by Jack Mueller

Both teams found an extra defensive gear in the fourth, as neither team could record a single point until Mount Notre Dame’s Sarah Hofmann and Taylor Stanley found the bottom of the net five minutes into the quarter. 

“It says a lot about the stamina of both teams,” said Coach Huismann “We just weren’t going to give in.” Huismann also highlighted the defensive effort of guards Sieg and Weekley as one of the reasons Talawanda was able to hold the Cougars at bay for more than half of the period. 

The Cougars had a dominant defensive pairing of their own. Mount Notre Dame’s duo of Laila Harrison (2 blocks) and Taylor Stanley (2 steals) did enough to keep the prolific duo of Fears and Farris off the scoresheet until there were 90 seconds left, allowing the Cougars to take a 46-42 lead with ninety seconds to go. Taylor Farris sparked a Talawanda comeback in the final minute, hitting three clutch layups down the stretch to give the Brave a 49-48 lead with seconds to go. In the end though, it was not enough, as a clever Cougars’ inbound play found an open Bransford under the basket, and she made no mistake on the shot sending Mount Notre Dame home with a victory. 

“You can go back and look at all of the little things, but it comes down to the one play at the end that everyone remembers,” said Coach Huismann. 

The Talawanda Brave ends its season 23-1 (10-0 SWOC) while Mount Notre Dame improved to 19-4 (8-0 Greater Catholic) and will face Princeton on February 25.