HHS junior Karlee Curtis shoots over Hartville sophomore Jenna Kelley during the first quarter of the Lady Tigers' loss Monday night in Houston's new gym. Credit: DOUG DAVISON | HOUSTON HERALD

The hole they fell into early on was deep and it got deeper as the game went on, as the Houston High School basketball Lady Tigers fell to Hartville Monday night in Houston’s new gym, 58-37.

The visiting Lady Eagles jumped out to a 10-0 lead at the outset of the contest and were ahead 17-6 at the end of the first quarter.

The Lady Tigers scored 7 straight points to open the second period, and cut the deficit to 17-13 on a driving layup by junior forward Karlee Curtis with 6:20 to go before halftime. But Hartville then went on a decisive 18-1 run and held a commanding 35-14 advantage at the break.

The Lady Eagles picked up where they left off in the third quarter and built a massive 48-19 lead going into the final period.

After having trouble generating offense for 24 minutes, Houston found some down the stretch, outscoring Hartville 18-10 in the fourth quarter. Sophomore guard Angie Smith led the surge, knocking down three 3-pointers and scoring 11 points in the period.

The Lady Tigers sank five field goals in the first half and eight in the second.

Smith led Houston in scoring in the contest with 15 points, while also blocking four shots. Curtis and junior guard Hannah Dzurick had 6 points apiece for the Lady Tigers, while junior forward Olivia Crites added 5.

Hartville senior guard Kylie Harris looks to pass while Houston junior Aliyah Walker (14) and sophomore Angie Smith apply defensive pressure in the back court during the third quarter of the Lady Tigers’ loss Monday night.

The Lady Eagles produced effective offense from both inside and outside, and repeatedly broke through the Lady Tigers’ full court press.

Senior forward McKinley Sanders was a force in the key and on the perimeter for Hartville (15-6), nailing two treys and banging down low for several buckets on the way to scoring a game-high 19 points. Meanwhile, junior guard Molly Brown provided the Lady Eagles’ primary outside threat, drilling four 3-balls (including three during the big second quarter run) and finishing with 16 points. 

“We aren’t there mentally,” said HHS head coach Lindsey Vermillion. “Outside confidence and chatter is getting to some and we just aren’t on the same page. Its not going to work until everyone buys in and trusts each other. All we can do is keep working hard and keep coming together and keep battling.” 

After losing six of their last eight games, the Lady Tigers play again Thursday (Feb. 10) at county rival Plato and travel to Mountain View Saturday (Feb. 12) for a South Central Association contest at Liberty (a game that was postponed once due to COVID-19 and again due to winter weather).

Houston (11-9, 1-2 SCA) hosts a conference matchup with Willow Springs on Monday.

To view a photo gallery from the Lady Tigers’ game against Hartville (with the option to purchase photos), click here.

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Doug Davison

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Contact him by phone at 417-967-2000 or by email at ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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