WALKERSVILLE — Heading into Thursday’s girls basketball game, Walkersville’s goal was to grab 30-plus rebounds.
The Lions dwarfed that desired total, finishing with 50. The only thing was, 25 of them came on the offensive glass.
Walkersville has had trouble hitting shots this season, and those problems surfaced again Thursday, when they often missed from beyond the 3-point arc, inside the paint and even at the foul line.
Nonetheless, on a night when they shot 18 percent from the floor, the host Lions got enough scoring and defensive stops down the stretch to hold on for a 41-37 win against comeback-minded Brunswick.
And as it turned out, Walkersville’s top rebounder on Thursday came through with some clutch offense in the final minutes.
Ryley Bolyard, who had eight offensive rebounds and 11 boards overall, took a 3-point shot from the left corner when her team was clinging to a 35-32 lead with 1 minute, 28 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
The ball bounced off the rim and high in the air before falling through the net. Did Bolyard think her shot would fall?
“No because nothing had went in the whole night, and I was like, ‘Just please go in,’” she said. “It felt good.”
Bolyard sealed the win for good with three seconds left, when she was awarded two foul shots with the Lions up 40-37. After missing her first free throw, Bolyard made the second one.
As it turned out, the Lions also had trouble hitting free throws, hitting 11 of 28 from the foul line.
As for their shooting woes from the floor, they often got good scoring opportunities. Aside from when they had trouble with Brunswick’s trap in the second half, the Lions showed an ability to push the ball up the floor and create open looks at the hoop.
The ensuing shots just didn’t fall.
“We’ve got to overcome that piece of it and try to figure out a way to put the ball in the basket,” Lions coach Troy Bolyard said. “Usually, you want to get to the foul line and make a foul shot, and that gets you in a rhythm, but we’re 11-of-28 from the foul line, too.”
Fortunately for the Lions, Indatou Ali-Goukoye, Jaden Bryan and Bolyard each went 1-of-2 from the free-throw line in the final minute to help fend off the Railroaders.
Ryley Bolyard hoped this win could give the Lions some momentum.
Ry Brunner led the Lions with 10 points. Ali-Goukoye had nine rebounds, Erin Gant had six rebounds and four steals, while Abbie Albertson had eight rebounds before leaving the game with a head injury late in the third quarter.
With its trapping defense getting results, Brunswick also used clutch shots from freshman Cassidy Rhodes and senior Zhanna Snyder to battle back from a double-digit deficit.
“I’m proud of the girls,” Railroaders coach Dave Spiezio said. “They fought all the way back. Just came up a little short, unfortunately.”
Snyder cut Walkersville’s lead to 34-32 on a steal and fast-break layup with a little over two minutes left. She struck again with 19 seconds left, hitting a 3 from the left wing to cut the Lions’ lead to 3.
Snyder had two 3s and finished with 11 points. Rhodes had a game-high 14 points, including three 3s. She thinks her team has been making strides.
“Some games we lose, but we still play well,” she said. “Some games, we just have off games. But that’s everyone.”
Walkersville won the JV game 42-2. Emma Bowers led the Lions with 11 points, and Jill Silver scored 10.