|Click Photo to Enlarge
Mooseheart senior U-Conjay Nelson receives a hug from Ramblers girls basketball coach Bryan Miller at halftime of Tuesday's game with Paw Paw. Nelson was the only senior on this year's Mooseheart roster and Tuesday marked the final home contest in her career.
Mooseheart senior U-Conjay Nelson powers into the front court in the Ramblers final home game of the season, a 40-12 defeat by Paw Paw. Nelson scored 3 points in the contest.
Mooseheart's Kami Kolb shoots a jump shot in the fourth quarter of the Ramblers home finale against Paw Paw. Kolb led the Ramblers in scoring with 4 points.
MOOSEHEART, Jan. 29 – This was a night for honoring perseverance, and Mooseheart's girls basketball program served up an evening full of such celebrations.
First there was the honoring of the team's only senior – U-Conjay Nelson – who concluded her four-year varsity career with Tuesday's 40-12 loss to Paw Paw.
Nelson was a small part of the Ramblers scheme as a freshman, but she ended as the team captain and has been the leading scorer all season. She scored three points in her home finale and received balloons, flowers and gifts from the team, coaching staff and campus at halftime.
"U-Conjay's been with us the last four years," Mooseheart girls basketball coach Bryan Miller said. "She played some major minutes for us last year and she stepped up this year as our captain. She's our leading scorer. But more importantly, she's our leader off the court and in practice. That's why she was deserving of this night."
Mooseheart has gone through the season with seven players, and Paw Paw wore down the Ramblers. By the end of the first quarter, the Bulldogs led 16-4 and the lead never dropped inside double-digits the rest of the way.
But one of the characteristics of this year's Mooseheart team is that they battle through four quarters of every game, no matter the score – and Tuesday was no exception.
"Obviously being low in number4s and low in height, it's always going to be a challenge," Miller said. "I think for the most part, we gutted it out this year. Our girls stayed healthy, stayed eligible and kept playing hard. Those are things they should be commended for. I can't fault their effort."
But a taller and better shooting Paw Paw team never allowed the Ramblers (1-18) make a run to get back into the game.
Paw Paw's Chelsea Morgan led all scorers with 18 points. Aleigha Lampson added 11 points for the Bulldogs. Kami Kolb led Mooseheart with four points.
"One thing we've talked about with our girls all year is being relentless," Miller said. "Regardless what the competition is, we're not going to just give it to them. I think that's one thing that's shone really well for our girls."
Mooseheart concludes the regular season with a Friday contest that starts at 4:30 p.m. at Harvest Christian. The Ramblers open IHSA Class 1A Regional play a 7:30 p.m. game at Hinckley-Big Rock on Monday against Paw Paw.
Paw Paw 40, Mooseheart 12
Paw Paw: Crawford 0 0-0 0, Allen 0 0-0 0, Glenn 1 0-0 2, Levan 1 0-0 2, K. Crawford 0 1-2 1, Aloiso 0 0-0 0, Morgan 9 0-0 18, Lampson 5 1-2 11, Penman 0 0-0 0, J. Kidd 0 0-0 0, K. Kidd 3 0-1 6, Pacheco 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 2-5 40.
Mooseheart: Nelson 1 1-4 3, Mahoney 0 0-0 0, Bruce 2 0-0 4, Kolb 2 0-0 4, Lamas 1 0-0 3, Gamez 0 0-0 0, Serrano 1 0-0 2. Totals 5 1-4 12.
Paw Paw 18 4 16 2 - 40
Mooseheart 4 2 4 2 - 12
Three-point goals: Lamas 1. Fouled out: None.