HIGH ANXIETY: Shawe’s (from left) Stephanie Snodgrass, Amelia Koehler, Sarelia Rios-Garcia and Hannah Storm anxiously join hands while watching a late free throw from the bench during Shawe’s 38-33 win over Milan Monday. Snodgrass was sidelined with a foot injury and the others were three of the four Lady Hilltoppers who fouled out of the contest, leaving Shawe with just five eligible players. (Staff photo by Mark Campbell)
HIGH ANXIETY: Shawe’s (from left) Stephanie Snodgrass, Amelia Koehler, Sarelia Rios-Garcia and Hannah Storm anxiously join hands while watching a late free throw from the bench during Shawe’s 38-33 win over Milan Monday. Snodgrass was sidelined with a foot injury and the others were three of the four Lady Hilltoppers who fouled out of the contest, leaving Shawe with just five eligible players. (Staff photo by Mark Campbell)
Shawe Memorial's Taylor Grote scored 10 of her game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter - including a big 3-pointer and 5-of-8 at the free throw line - as the Lady Hilltoppers held off Milan 38-33 for their first win of the season.

Grote and the Hilltoppers' ability to slam the door shut on the Indians was made more impressive by the fact that Shawe lost four players - including three starters - to foul trouble and ended the game with Grote and four post players on the floor and nobody left on the bench over the final 2:27 of the contest.

"Taylor Grote totally took over that second half - she was the key for us winning this game because she took control of it," Shawe head coach Camille Deuser said of her junior point guard whose 19 points were a career high.

Grote's spot-up 3-pointer with 5:08 left helped the Hilltoppers weather a long-range comeback by Milan before her free throw shooting in the final seconds sealed the deal as Shawe posted its first win of the season.

"I just kind of blocked everyone out and tried to make the shots," Grote said of her big scoring night.

"Our youth showed a lot but in the end they finally found that desire - that desire that they're not going to lose and it was their ballgame and they were going to take it," Deuser said. "I thought everybody contributed and everybody had to contribute because we were in such foul trouble. They did a good job and I couldn't have been more proud of them."

Shawe and Milan both came into the game winless on the season so a lot was riding on the contest even though Monday's game was the non-conference matchup of the two Ohio River Valley Conference rivals.

The first half proved to be an exercise in futility as Shawe and Milan were tied 4-4 after a quarter and the Hilltoppers led just 14-12 at intermisson following a first half that featured more turnovers than shots and more fouls than points.

That all changed in the third quarter when Shawe opened up a 23-13 lead midway through the period when Grote hit a 3-pointer and a couple of breakaway layups to go with a basket by Jenna Armstrong to fuel a 9-1 run.

"We knew we had to keep attacking the basket because we were going to get shots or get fouled and get to the line for those opportunities," Deuser said. "Our game plan was to attack the basket ... and we did execute better in the third quarter."

Shawe forged its biggest lead of the night (25-13) when Maddie Waller dished off to Shannon Fry for a bucket in the paint with 1:21 left in the third quarter.

But just when the Hilltoppers' offense looked to be hitting its stride, Shawe was slipping ever closer to severe foul trouble as Grote, Amelia Koehler and Sarelia Rios-Garcia each picked up their fourth fouls in the latter minutes of the third quarter with Rios-Garcia eventually fouling out with 13 seconds left and Milan already waging a comeback that cut the margin to 25-17 by the close of the third.

Shawe went on to lose Koehler to fouls with 4:50 left, Hannah Storm to the same with 3:19 to play and Waller exited with 2:27 to force Deuser to use her last active player on the bench put a team of four forwards and Grote on the floor for the stretch run.

"I hadn't thought that far ahead but it didn't matter," Deuser said, when asked what her plan would have been if Grote had picked up her fifth foul with nobody left on the bench.

Milan eventually identified Shawe's lack of ball-handlers on the floor and started pressing and double-teaming Grote on every inbounds, but the 5-foot-4 junior slashed through the Indian defense to avoid the traps and pick up fouls in the process.

"I wanted to break them down but with me and four post players out there on the floor I thought 'Oh my gosh, I'm all by myself' handling the ball," Grote said.

"But part of transitioning from junior high school straight to varsity in high school is I've kind of grown accustomed to being able to just take it down the floor. I could probably be triple teamed and not care. I just know how to get through them," Grote said. "What I knew is that I couldn't stop or they'd trap me and we'd be in trouble."

"She's slowly learning what to do - how to become our leader," Deuser said of Grote. "We're seeing it more and more in practice. She's become more vocal and telling girls what needs to be done ... she is really starting to emerge as the leader."

Shawe actually surrendered the lead with 1:40 left in the game when Milan sandwiched back-to-back 3-pointers by Kami Morrisey and Shelby Ross from the right corner around a free throw by Armstrong to take a 32-31 advantage. However, Grote hit 5-of-8 at the foul line over the final 90 seconds to clinch the win.

"I think we got tired and we quit going out on the shooters and they kind of were alone to get their shot off," Deuser said of the Milan 3-pointers. "I couldn't rest anybody because I didn't have anybody else to put in."

However, Deuser said the foul trouble could in the end be a blessing for her team. The team really needed a win but to win despite such adversity brings a lot of positive confidence to her young team.

"Everybody had to step up and they had to contribute. We're still hurting for rebounding even though we worked on that all week in practice but everybody did something to contribute to this win and it wasn't just one thing, it was multiples. That is a blessing," Deuser said. "I'm so proud of my girls."

Deuser said gaining that confidence helps soften the fact that the win won't count in the ORVC standings since the two teams play their conference tilt on Dec. 11 at Milan.

"The girls needed it for their confidence and they now know what they can do - that they are capable of winning a tight game ... they're capable of taking care of the basketball and doing what needs to be done," Deuser said. "We'll get a chance to get a conference win down the road."

The victory is also pretty special in that it will go down as Deuser's first as a varsity head coach.

"I'm exhausted but more than anything I'm just so happy and so excited," Deuser said of getting her first win. "I can't think of a better group of girls to give me my first win."

"They were really excited in the lockerroom," Grote said of Deuser and her young assistants Sonja Bowyer and Kendall Withered. "They were jumping up and down in there. It made me feel so happy to have that enthusiasm from them. Everyone was pumped up but they - Kendall and Sonja - were really happy."

Shawe's regularly scheduled matchup at Southwestern this Friday has been postponed and will now be played as part of a girls-boys varsity double-header with the Rebels on Friday. Nov. 30, in Hanover. The Lady Hilltoppers visit South Ripley on Dec. 6.

---

Monday's Shawe Boxscore

at Madison

SHAWE 38, MILAN 33



MILAN 4 8 5 16 - 33

SHAWE 4 10 9 13 - 38



MILAN (0-4) - (g)Ross 8, (g)Morrisey 6, (f)Rohrig 6, (g)Herzog 5, (f)Hoffrogge 4, White 3, Stabile 1, Lacey 0, Gauck 0, Money 0.

SHAWE (1-2) - (g)Grote 19, Armstrong 5, (f)Storm 4, (f)Moore 3, (g)Rios-Garcia 2, Koehler 2, Fry 2, (g)Waller 1, Scroggins 0.



3-Point Goals - Milan 4 (Ross 2, Herzog 1, Morrisey 1), Shawe 2 (Grote 2). Free Throws - Milan 12-42 (28.6%), Shawe 12-25 (48%). Team Fouls - Milan 24, Shawe 22. Fouled Out - Milan (Herzog), Shawe (Rios-Garcia, Koehler, Storm, Waller). Next Game - Milan hosts Switzerland Co. Nov. 27, Shawe visits Southwestern Nov. 30.