ARTHUR -- It'd been a full 17 days since Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond took to the court.
But whether it was the extra shots taken in that time, player-run practices or maybe just a little bit of rest, the Knights summoned all of that for a fourth-quarter comeback to beat Tuscola 55-50.
"Tuscola game is always pretty hyped up," ALAH guard Mycaela Miller said. "We want to win, so I mean to beat them feels really good, because they're a really good team."
Three quarters in, it looked like the Warriors constant schedule was giving them a boost as they burst ahead into the third quarter to take a 44-37 lead into the final eight minutes.
ALAH (13-2) took over from there. Kelsey Shipman and Hannah Wallen both hit threes, Shipman blazed by the Tuscola (12-4) defense for a baseline drive before cashing in a Janette Comstock pass for a bucket inside.
"When we got down seven, coach (Mac) Condill suggested putting a little press on them, which was a great suggestion," ALAH coach Craig Moffett said. "That turned the momentum and got us back into the game."
The Warriors finally scored five and a half minutes into the quarter, but then Miller slammed the door shut.
Coming out of a timeout, Miller heaved a full-length inbounds pass to a streaking and unguarded Megan Fifer, who finished the fast break. Miller dialed up another inbounds with 16 seconds left, finding a wide open Shipman under the hoop.
Miller credited her softball arm.
"We like to run the full length play a lot," she said. "I just try to read the defense, and if they're open I just throw it. I just hope they run fast enough to get it."
They were, and both moments came under pressure-filled moments where ALAH couldn't afford to make turnovers.
"I can't credit for inventing for any of that stuff," Moffett said. "It was a good lead pass with a good bounce to it. When you got a quarterback like her, it makes it easier to mix in more plays. And the girls finished, Shipman and then Fifer running."
Shipman was the closer, scoring nine of her team-high 19 points in the fourth quarter. Hannah Wallen added 11 and Fifer had 10.
It came against Tuscola, who was coming off a win against Unity where coach Tim Kohlbecker was raving about how well the Warriors played. He didn't feel the same way after Monday night's game.
"Most disappointed I've been in a long time with a team," he said. "We get a seven-point lead and we stop playing. We didn't rebound, we didn't box out, we didn't stop people from driving the baseline.
"As well as we played against Unity, that's the opposite team tonight."
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It's another step for the Knights, who have a senior group that's started for several years now. They put together a 19-win season last year, and are well on their way to breaking that this year.
"Freshman year, we played a lot together JV," Miller said. "Sophomore year was kind of our practice year. We weren't that good, but we were learning how to play with each other. Last year, we came together and this year I think we've came together a lot more than we have before."
Since ALAH started their co-op, the game against Tuscola has been worth watching.
The two are 2-2 during the last four years, and none of the games have been decided by more than eight points.
Monday's game sort of encapsulated this rivalry with a rare back-and-forth girls basketball game -- the lead changed hands 11 times.
Tough way to go
Tuscola seemed to have the game in hand entering the fourth quarter.
The Warriors kept feeding Cassie Russo (17 points) and Emma Henderson (18 points) inside, and the two racked up a sizeable lead. But the 11-0 run by ALAH to start the fourth quarter undid all of that.
That a lead like that disappeared left a bitter taste in Kohlbecker's mouth.
"There's a lot riding on this game, too. A lot. Seedings in regionals and the conference tournament because they're a mutual opponent," he said. "And the girls knew that. We did not show intensity. I think they thought they were ready, but they were not ready to go."
Miller said the Knights have been practicing their shots plenty in the nearly three-week stretch between games, and it showed. ALAH started the game shooting 7 of 10.
Moffett tried to keep practices fun and engaging during the stretch, and he saw it pay off.
"I did this thing where I have the girls plan the start of each practice, 10-15 minutes," he said. "Most of them have put good thought into it and had team-building things -- obviously, they didn't plan running or box out drills. But I think that's really helped."