North Clay seventh-grade girls basketball coach Scott Fosdick knew his Knights were in for a tough matchup when they traveled to Honey Creek Wednesday.
"They were county champs last year, and they have a really good program," he said. "They're a good measuring stick for us."
That said, the coach was pleased with his team's effort. Fosdick expected the Bees, one of the top middle-school programs in the area, to challenge his Knights. He wasn't surprised his team lost to the Honey Creek by a final score of 56-32. But he liked some of what he saw.
" They've improved a lot. We're running our offense much better now," he said.
Among the bright spots for North Clay were center Chelsey Sampson's 14-point performance and the 2-for-3 three-point shooting of guard Anna Pinkston.
The Knights played the Bees closely in the first quarter, trailing by just four after six minutes. Honey Creek center Taylor Hayne continued to score from the low post in the second, recording 10 points before the half and dominating the boards at both ends.
But the Knights found answers when they needed them. North Clay escaped the first half down by eight (27-19), still well within striking distance.
Sampson hit a short jumper 30 seconds into the third quarter to narrow the lead to six, but that was as close as the Knights would come. The Bees stretched their advantage to 14 by the end of the third, then exploded for an 11-0 run in the fourth on their way to the 24-point victory.
Sampson led the Knights in scoring with 14, followed by Pinkston with eight and Lauren Webster with six. Hayne and guard Haley Seibert combined for 34 for Honey Creek.
The Bees also stung North Clay's B-squad, beating the Knights' second team 39-4.
Next up for the seventh grade squad is a road trip to Cascade on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.