By Zach James Herald Assistant Sports Editor
The Clinton Herald
---- — CLINTON — Central Catholic Auditorium held two teams on Saturday night where both are trying to turn the corner, but one of them turned it on a high-post screen to defeat the other.
In a cross-river rivalry, Prince of Peace defeated Fulton 50-48 to get win No. 2, thanks to a layup by Irish guard Karli Atkinson with 2 seconds remaining.
“I saw a small opening and knew I could get to the rim, and I took it,” Atkinson said.
Prince of Peace got the ball back with about 12 seconds remaining, so that gave Atkinson enough time to think about what she wanted to do.
“I knew I had to kill some time, so when the clock got to five seconds, I tried to go as far as I could,” she said.
Irish coach Scott Maddasion drew up a play for Atkinson to take the screen but was glad she called an audible when she read the defense.
“I have full confidence in her; she is an outstanding player,” Maddasion said. “She deviated from what we drew up, but I’m glad she did, and I’m proud of her and the entire team.”
Before that final play, the Irish came out scoring 16 points in the third quarter, with most coming from fast breaks.
“Coach has been telling us to push the ball as fast as we can,” Atkinson said. “We worked on that a lot over break, and I think it showed tonight.”
Atkinson ended up with 17 points, nine coming in the first half. The leading scorer for Prince of Peace was Jackie Kokjohn with 18.
The Irish never led until the final horn sounded. Fulton’s biggest lead was near the end of the first quarter, 18-8, but Fulton coach Mike Menchaca believes foul trouble and fatigue plagued the Steamers as they tried to get their first win of 2014.
“We had a couple good ball-handlers who were on the bench, and that changed our complexity,” he said. “We have to get better at adjusting rotations a bit, and I think they may have panicked a bit, which it happens.”
Menachaca said his girls went away from the game plan as the game went on.
“I thought they needed to go more north and south for four quarters, and quit going away from what’s working and build on that to sustain the lead.”
Menchaca mentioned after Thursday’s loss to Amboy that Fulton didn’t get much practice time in over the holidays, with playing in tournaments, but he pointed out that Friday was a solid work day in practice.
“We worked on our man-to-man offense, which I thought we did a good job of that, and we worked on a lot of offensive stuff that we haven’t gotten a whole lot of,” he said. “We started strong offensively, but didn’t finish the way we wanted.”
Fulton’s leading scorer was Betsy Leonard with 12 points.
Meanwhile, on the other side, Prince of Peace utilized its holiday break wisely.
“We practiced every day and practiced for as much as three hours a day,” Maddasion said. “We wanted to eliminate the some key mistakes we were making so we wouldn’t make those going into 2014.
We had a stretch of three days which I thought were the best of the season.”
Atkinson agreed that the time spent over break fine-tuning would make the Irish a stronger team heading into the meat of their schedule.
“New year, new Irish,” Atkinson said.
PRINCE OF PEACE 50, FULTON 48
PRINCE OF PEACE (2-6) — Lauren Pittman 0 2-6 2, Andrea Aquilani 1 2-2 4, Jackie Kokjohn 6 6-8 18, Hunter Chapman 0 0-0 0, Karli Atkinson 6 5-6 17, Sydney Laufenberg 3 0-0 6, Halee Vicks 1 1-2 3. Totals 17 15-24 50.
FULTON (3-15) — Averi Leitzen 2 1-4 7, Rachel Beiermann 2 1-1 5, Autumn Hutton 2 2-4 6, Kerrigan Enloe 3 1-2 7, Betsy Leonard 6 0-1 12, Camerin Huizenga 0 2-2 2, Jordan Price 3 1-4 7, Kim Holland 1 0-0 2, Faith Kennedy 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 8-18 48.
Fulton 18 9 13 8 — 48
Prince of Peace 10 12 16 12 — 50
3-point goals — Fulton 2 (Leitzen 2). Total fouls — Fulton 21, Prince of Peace 17. Fouled out — Enloe.