December 13th, 2019

A healthy Toller helps SHA topple Jeffersonville

Block_eric thorne

Eric Thorne

Staff Writer


A healthy Toller helps SHA topple Jeffersonville
Erin Toller scored 19 points in a win over Jeffersonville/photo by Eric Thorne

 JEFFERSONVILLE (IN) – While the game itself might have not been a thing of beauty the glowing smile of Sacred Heart’s Erin Toller as a welcome one as the visiting Valkyries topped Jeffersonville 55-27 Thursday night.

Toller has been climbing the Everest of recoveries rehabbing her body after suffering two different torn ACL’s, one in each leg, and had not stepped foot on the basketball court to play in a game in over two years until two weeks ago.

“The hardest thing honestly has been picking up where I left off on my defense two years ago because my defense was really good my first two years,” Toller said. “Now just moving latterly and changing directions is still slow, but I see a big difference from game one to now.”

Sacred Heart (4-0) blitzed out to a 21-4 first quarter lead behind the outside shooting of Destinee Marshall and Triniti Ralston. She senior pair nailed three 3-pointers in the quarter. Marshall dropped in the first six points and her three capped off the quarter’s scoring.

The second was much the same with Marshall netting six points mostly driving the lane. Toller helped fuel the run with five opening half steals despite just two points and a 29-13 lead.

That quickly changed as the University of Kentucky commit torched the nets in the third quarter. She tallied all 15 of her teams points off a trio of 3-pointers from all around the arc, and a spinning one hander down the lane.

The Lady Red Devils managed just 10 points as a team in the quarter as the lead swelled to 44-23.

“When people see me smiling out there my teammates know I am having a lot of fun and that reflects off me and onto them,” said Toller, who finished with 19 points.

A ragtag final quarter was marred by three technical fouls, after Toller was whistled for one in the third on a hard bump out of bounds. However, the smile was still there more so in the fact her body could absorb tough physical play.

“I think we’re coming along despite our defensive intensity starting off kind of bad but we’re really picking it up now and keeping that throughout the whole game,” Toller said. “This will show us how to keep our composure down the road.”

Sacred Heart hit 20 of 58 from the field (34.5%) and was 7 of 22 from 3-point range. They connected on 8 of 10 free throws, all in the second half. The Valkyries pulled down 44 rebounds led by Kristen Clemmons with 8, Josie Gilven with 6 and four others had five.  Marshall led all scorers with 20 points.

SHA coach Donna Moir came away with impressed the explosive scoring of Marshall and Ralson and the inside presence of Clemmons. But having Toller adds another dimension.

“Just having Erin on the floor brings so much to the team both passing, scoring and rebounding,” Moir said. “We ran a set to get her points to start the second half, but the swag or it factor whatever it is just makes those around her even better. She can get them the ball.”

Jeffersonville (9-2) entered the game ranked No. 10 in Class 4A but that was before senior Kelsi James suffered a torn ACL of her own and is lost for the season. The Lady Red Devils clearly miss her leadership, scoring and point-guard play.

The Sacred Heart defense was smothering allowing few second chance opportunities holding Jeffersonville to 10 of 43 (23.3%) shooting from the field and just 5 of 12 threes while forcing 24 turnovers. They also held Penn State commit Nan Garcia to just seven points and seven rebounds.

“Defense is what gets me going out there, and I try not to overdo it just yet because coach and I know I have set minutes that I really need to stick to now and keep increasing those each game,” Toller said.

She describes herself as getting closer to reaching the peak. “I won’t feel 100 percent back until I am completely in shape – maybe 85 percent right now.”

“I think you learn a lot about yourself in your faith, your family and they could not be any better,” Moir said of Toller. “Erin – she just loves the game of basketball. She studies it and her patience is evident.”

Moir said Toller was in the gym at all hours during the past two years anytime she could beg someone to unlock the doors.

“She is a terrific player and a person,” Moir said. “She realizes there’s more to life than basketball despite the setbacks. I am so proud of her and the whole state of Kentucky is glad she’s back.”

She could have sulked on the bench while rehabbing, but instead studied the game became a cheerleader or sorts and found a new perspective.

“You see a lot of girls basketball players just go fast 100-percent the whole game, but when you watch boys they play at their own speed,” Toller said. “You have to know when to pick it up and when to slow it down. It’s all about that rhythm and I point that out to them. We will be hard to stop when we all realize that.”

 

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