Preston girls struggle with fouls, fall to John Marshall 55-40

KINGWOOD — The John Marshall High girls’ basketball team knows how to shoot a foul shot.

The Class AAA No. 7 Monarchs put their skill at the charity stripe on display Saturday evening as they visited Preston. In a physical matchup that saw both teams combine for 49 fouls, John Marshall went 21-32 from the foul line en route to a 55-40 win. The Knights converted just 11 foul shots.

“The fouls in the second half, it wore us down mentally. We got frustrated. I wasn’t sure what was and what wasn’t a bump there for awhile” Preston coach Brian Miller said.

“You don’t like to see you only make half, and you don’t like seeing the other team make as many as you shoot, and both of those happened.”

As the fouls began to pile up — the Knights tallied 20 in the second half alone — Miller had limited choices on the bench. By the end of the game, Miller had just six players who were still eligible to take the floor.

“We got in foul trouble there in the third quarter, and we ran out of bodies,” Miller said. “Everyone else we had on the bench was done quarter-wise. They were trying to spread the floor out and we couldn’t have our center in, so we had to run with the same five.”

John Marshall jumped out to a 26-22 lead at halftime, powered by five 3-point baskets. Miller tailored the gameplan to focus on negating his opponent’s lethal shooting, but Preston couldn’t adapt to the switch.

“All we talked about is guarding the 3-point line,” Miller said. “We told them not to worry about the inside game, if they threw it in there, let whoever is playing defense guard one-on-one, and don’t go and help.

“Usually we do go down and help, and I don’t know if it was out of habit or whatever, but we’d sneak down a little bit and they’d kick it out and hit a 3.”

Sophomore Michelle Thomas, who paced the Knights (8-6) with 15 points, said much of the team’s challenge on the defensive end was attempting to stay in the right position.

“It was a tough adjustment for us because we are always in help position,” she said. “I think we could have put a little more pressure on them defensively, and we could have gotten more hands in their face.”

On the offensive end of the floor, Preston ran its offense smoothly and found numerous open looks, but failed to put away many of their opportunities.

“We had great looks. I didn’t have a complaint with any of our shots. I thought every shot was a good shot, they looked good, and I thought they were going in. They didn’t fall today,” Miller said. “I didn’t want to change anything on offense because we got the shots we wanted. Those two 3s in the third quarter, that would have given us the lead, and they went spinning in and fell out.”

John Marshall’s Shay Straughn led all scorers with 29 points, while Abby Brake also scored double-digits with 13 for the Monarchs. Carsyn Sinnes was the second-highest scorer for Preston with eight points.

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