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DRIBBLE — Tuscola senior Brittany Steppleton dribbles up the court against Asheville. 

Tuscola girls basketball started well against Asheville Wednesday night, but faded down the stretch in a 64-26 loss to the top team in the conference.

Junior Gracie “John” Glance led the Mountaineers with seven points. Tuscola played strong defense for most of the game, but could not find nearly enough offense to stay with the Cougars before Asheville pulled away in the fourth quarter.

“I was very proud of us defensively,” said head coach Pam Bryant. “I thought we did a really good job. They just scored a lot of easy baskets at the end, which made the score a little bit more [lopsided], but overall I was really pleased with our defense.”

While nothing came easy against the Cougars’ full-court pressure and man-to-man defense, the Mountaineers scrapped and hung with them in the early going. Tuscola trailed by just two points about four and a half minutes in, and even after Asheville pushed its lead to seven, sophomore Abby Webster drilled a 3 to bring it back within four.

The Cougars took a 17-9 lead through the first eight minutes.

While the Mounties continued to battle, Asheville began to pull away in the second quarter, using a 10-3 run over the first five minutes and change to push its lead to 13. Tuscola trailed by 14 entering the half, but was putting up a good fight against the WMAC’s top dog.

“The girls have definitely progressed throughout the season, and so it’s good to see some of the good things that they’re doing out there right now,” Bryant said.

With a narrow, five-point edge in the third quarter, Asheville pushed its lead to 19 points heding into the final frame.

With a 14-4 run through the first four minutes and change of the final quarter, Asheville extended its lead to 53-24 and effectively put the game away.

Tuscola will host West Henderson Friday night.

“Right now, we just need to focus on executing the plays,” Bryant said. “That’s really what’s hurting us. Defensively, we were able to stop them tonight, but we just didn’t put the ball in the basket. We had 32 turnovers. With 32 turnovers, we only shot maybe 25 times. When you have that type of ratio, we’ve got to put points on the boards. If we’re stopping them defensively, we need to execute the plays and put more points on the board.”

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