SALEM - After a 57-43 loss to Marlington on Wednesday that knocked her Lady Quakers to 3-8 on the season, Salem coach Renee Farina could ask for a better a record. What she can't ask for is a better effort.
"I was proud of the girls," she said. "They dug deep and they came back. They kept fighting."
Instead of dwelling on the one quarter that cost her team the game - the Dukes broke it open by outscoring the Quakers 25-4 in the second - Farina chose to focus on the three strong ones her team played.
"There were positives tonight," she said. "We had two seniors and our leading scorer from last season on the bench, but the other girls stepped it up. Katherine Stiff ends up with a career-high and we opened up the third with a 9-0 run. We lost that second quarter but won the second half 34-24. If it wasn't for the that one quarter, we win the game."
Stiff dropped in eight field goals to post a game-high 22 points. She was six-of-seven from 3-point territory. Lindsey Foster chipped in seven points and grabbed a game-leading 13 rebounds. Tori Jones also contributed seven points.
The Lady Quakers held the Dukes, who entered Wednesday's game with an 8-2 mark and in a three-way tie for the NBC lead, to just eight points and forced six turnovers in the opening quarter.
Unfortunately for the Quakers, they committed seven turnovers themselves in the first and were able to notch just five.
The Dukes' ball handling improved in the second quarter - they turned the ball over just twice in the frame - and Marlington was able to score on most of its possessions. Ronniel Hogan, Mallory Chambers and Sierra Mayle all scored six points apiece in the second. Hogan dropped in a 3-pointer and three free throws, Chambers hit two 3-pointers, and Mayle lifted in three layups.
Hogan would go to notch a Duke-high 19 points. Chambers finished with nine total and Mayle scored 10 on the night.
The Quakers scored just two field goals in the second quarter - Jones scored early in the quarter and Stiff scored late - and limped into half down 33-9.
"We need to play four quarters," Farina said. "That's something we haven't been able to do all season. That second quarter just killed us."
Salem opened the third with it 9-0 run that included two 3-pointers by Stiff. Stiff would drop in another long shot before the quarter came to a close.
The Dukes won the third, but by just a point. They outdid the Quakers 13-12 and led 46-22 heading into the final quarter.
Salem finished strong by scoring 21 points in the fourth. Stiff scored 10 in the period with three more 3-pointers and a layup. Tori Jones added a 3-pointer, and Megan Lehwald and Foster were each good for a two-point play.
"We're improving every game," Farina said. "We started the season playing girls who had little if any experience at the varsity level and we've definitely improved. If we continue to work hard, we'll keep improving. That's all you can ask for."
The Quakers return to action Saturday when Alliance visits the John C. Cabas Gymnasium.
MARLINGTON: 8 25 13 11 - 57
SALEM 5 4 12 21 - 43
MARLINGTON SCORING: Ronniel Hogan 5-6-19, Mclea Staffer 0-2-2, Katie Hill 2-0-5, Mackenzie Bitzel 1-1-3, Ali Rodgers 2-1-5, Taylor Long 20-04, Mallory Chmabers 3-1-9, Sierra Mayle 5-0-10. TEAM TOTALS: 20, 11-19, 57.
SALEM SCORING: Tori Jones 3-0-7, Megan Lehwald 1-0-2, Katherine Stiff 8-0-22, Mallorie Davidson 0-2-2, Lindsey Foster 3-1-7, Cierra Trybend 0-1-2. TEAM TOTALS: 16, 4-6, 43.
THREE POINTERS: Marlington 6 (Hogan 3, Chambers 2, Reed), Salem 7 (Stiff 6, Jones).