NEWTON FALLS - The numbers simply didn't add up Thursday for the LaBrae Vikings girls' basketball team.
Vikings coach Lisa Aldridge was limited to six players she felt comfortable with in an All-American Conference National Division game against the Newton Falls Tigers. Tigers coach Mark Baker ran 10 players in and out of the lineup.
The added depth proved decisive for the Tigers, who recorded a hard-fought 49-41 win. While Aldridge had to conserve the stamina of the Vikings, Baker never seemed to slow down the revolving door that filtered players into action.
"That's pretty typical for us," Baker said. "We're going to try to play 10 players or more on any given night. Having that depth is great to keep fresh legs in the game at all times."
The Tigers remained undefeated at 6-0 and 3-0 in the National Division. The Vikings are 4-1 and 2-1 in the division.
Newton Falls needed the depth because of foul trouble encountered by star senior forward Brooke Barreca, who fouled out with 1:13 remaining in the fourth quarter. Baker had to sit Barreca a couple of times to make sure she was available for the later stages.
The substitution cycle actually worked well for Baker once Barreca began having foul trouble. When she was on the bench, other players stepped up. Sophomore Gabrielle Kline had 14 points and eight rebounds.
"She (Barreca) might have been a little over-anxious. Wrong place, wrong time kind of deal," Baker said.
made a significant difference. When she got into the foul trouble it was that time of the game when she was ready for a break."
The Vikings played without junior Demari Brown, who suffered an injury to a knee cap and will be sidelined a few weeks. In addition, Lauren Ruterford, the Vikings' tallest player at 5-11, missed time in the second quarter after picking up her second foul.
The Tigers took advantage of Rutherford's absence to run off 10 unanswered points and take a 29-20 lead. The Vikings had led after one quarter, 14-13.
"We talked to them about the mental aspect of the game and this being a really good team and to stay focused and not let them create the turnovers," Aldridge said. "We just didn't have any depth on the bench."
Aldridge was concerned about dealing with the Tigers' defensive pressure, but it turned out to not be a big problem. The Vikings had only one turnover in the first quarter. For the game LaBrae had 18 turnovers compared to 17 for Newton Falls.
The Tigers led 33-24 at halftime. Barreca had eight of her game-high 18 points in the second quarter. Kline scored seven in the period.
Although they never had the lead in the second half, the Vikings didn't go away. Somer McCoy, who scored 17 points, had seven in the third period for the Vikings, who trailed 40-35 entering the final session.
The Tigers will be difficult to defeat for teams that don't have inside size because of their play in the post areas.
"When teams decide they're going to scheme to try to limit the touches that Brooke gets, Gabby is going to benefit from that," Baker said. "If teams are going to bring a double team, Gabby will reap the benefits from that because she's going to be opposite of that action."
The Vikings host Southington Monday. Newton Falls is home to play Crestwood the same night.