OKEECHOBEE — Gifford held off a stubborn Osceola Middle School team thanks to a 9-2 run in the third quarter as the Lady Dolphins won a middle school girls basketball game Thursday at Osceola, 26-15.
Chase McGirt had eight points and five steals in the second half to lead the Dolphins. Nina Austin added seven steals and Jovah Jones had seven points, two assists and two steals for Gifford.
Osceola held their own throughout the first half as they trailed only 4-2 at the end of the first quarter. The game was tied at 6-6 at halftime.
Mallorie Thomas had four points and four rebounds for Osceola. LaFasia Smith led the Lady Warriors with nine points, five rebounds and two steals.
Brook Julian added three rebounds and three steals and Piper Hans had four steals, and four rebounds for the Warriors.
Osceola got as close as five points in the fourth quarter thanks to baskets by Thomas and Joan Taylor but the Dolphins forced some turnovers in the final minutes to pull away.
Gifford coach Libby Page said he has a lot of young girls on his team and he tries each game to get them some playing time and experience.
“I don’t believe in showing another team up. I play all my girls. It’s all about having fun. Of course you want to win,” he noted.
Page said his players played at high energy levels throughout the game because they got a break and rest. He said playing the younger girls helps build the team for future years.
“Osceola was a scrappy team. We didn’t try to embarrass anybody. I feel good about this win for my young ladies,” he added.
Gifford improved to (4-3) while Osceola is now (1-6).
Page singled out his point guard Jones for her excellent work on the court for controlling the tempo and handling the ball well.
“Without a ball handler I don’t know where any team would be.”
He also emphasizes strong academics for all his players and good attitudes.
“I’m just teaching them the game. They practice hard, they play hard and it’s been a good season for us.”
Charles M. Murphy is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News