McClain’s Maddy Stegbauer drives past a Miami Trace defender. (HCP Photo/Jim Jones)
McClain’s Maddy Stegbauer drives past a Miami Trace defender. (HCP Photo/Jim Jones)
It was a game that most coming in thought would probably be a blowout when Miami Trace came to Greenfield with four starters returning from last year’s State Final Four team. Instead, the young Lady Tigers of Coach Jarrod Haines played the defending South Central Ohio League champions tough all night, before losing 49-39 on the McClain hardwood in a Frontier Athletic Conference battle.

“I can’t say enough about how hard my kids played tonight,” Haines said. “It’s kind of rewarding as a coach to see your kids buy in and not back down.

“That’s what McClain Lady Tigers basketball is all about and always has been, and that’s what we want it to continue to be about.”

The Lady Tigers came into the ballgame losing their first two but on this night put together best all-around performance of the season. After four minutes of play in the opening period, the game was tied 7-7 before the Lady Panthers went on a 13-2 run to end the quarter leading 20-9.

Both teams played pretty even basketball in the second frame when Miami Trace outscored the Lady Tigers 11-9 and took a 31-18 advantage into the locker room. Maddy Stegbauer led McClain in scoring at the break with eight points, while Tanner Bryant and Victoria Fliehman had seven each for Miami Trace.

“Miami Trace is one of the best teams in the state and definitely one of the best teams in our area,” Haines said. “They are very good and are well-coached.”

In the third period, junior Kelli Uhrig scored five points for McClain, including her second trifecta, to help the Lady Tigers outscore Miami Trace 9-6 in the quarter, cutting the lead to 37-27.

“We know our three freshmen can score, and tonight our junior Kelli Uhrig knocked down some big shots for us too and really took the ball to the basket,” Haines said. “She played extremely well for us.”

In the fourth quarter, the Lady Tigers kept chipping away and pulled to within nine points to make the score 42-33 at the 3:30 mark but ran out of energy late, falling 49-39.

“I’m just super proud of all my kids tonight for showing up and really playing hard. They didn’t back down all night,” Haines said. “In our first two ballgames, we played scared and put way too much pressure on ourselves, but tonight we played like we did when we scrimmage in practice. We were playing hard and knocking down shots and really getting after it on defense.

“I thought all our post players, Mikenzie Coleman, Hunter Scott and Hannah Smith all did a great job defensively, and our freshman Jaelyn Pitzer did an outstanding job of holding Tanner Bryant, who is one of the best offensive players in the area, to just 11 points.”

Miami Trace improves to 4-0 overall (2-0 FAC) and was led in scoring by Victoria Fliehman, who had a game-high 14 points, followed by Bryant, who had 11 points.

The Lady Tigers were led by junior Maddy Stegbauer and freshman Kyla Burchett with 10 points each, followed by Kelli Uhrig and Emma Stegbauer with eight apiece.

McClain will be back in action Saturday night when they host Portsmouth Notre Dame in a 7 p.m. tip-off.