The mother of a Licking Heights High School girls basketball player spent the final minutes of last Tuesday's 36-33 loss at Whitehall pacing in a distant corner of the gymnasium. She occasionally peaked over the bleachers, but for the most part seemed to be resisting the urge to watch.

The mother of a Licking Heights High School girls basketball player spent the final minutes of last Tuesday's 36-33 loss at Whitehall pacing in a distant corner of the gymnasium. She occasionally peaked over the bleachers, but for the most part seemed to be resisting the urge to watch.

It's been that kind of season for the Hornets, who had dropped five games by seven or fewer points before playing Grove City last Thursday.

"It's definitely frustrating when you can't finish," coach Alison Pence said. "We just have to hang in there and be strong. It'll come. We're a very young team and it's showing at the end of games."

Alex Sandy, who is playing for the first time since her freshman year and is one of only two seniors, scored on a putback to give the Hornets a 23-22 lead with 2 minutes, 38 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

They would hold that lead for nearly nine minutes by showing offensive diversity.

Chelsea Dunkle added a layup on a fast break, Kyasia Duling went inside for another basket and freshman point guard Demaris Whitlock hit a jumper from the lane as the horn sounded with the Hornets leading 29-26 after three quarters.

Turnovers down the stretch prevented the Hornets from stringing together consecutive victories. They were outscored 10-4 in the fourth quarter and turned over the ball 14 times in the second half.

Pence twice drew up plays in the final 12.7 seconds in which junior guard Brandi Hunt, who had made 14 3-pointers in the opening six games, might be able to get off what would have been a tying 3 from a corner, but neither one materialized.

"We're averaging more than 20 turnovers a game. They're killing our scoring chances," Pence said. "We just need to play with more consistency."

The Hornets defeated Millersport 54-34 on Dec. 18 to post their first win, but last Tuesday's loss left them with a 1-7 overall record. They are 1-4 in the MSL-Cardinal Division, with the four losses coming by a combined 22 points.

"We let this one get away from us in the fourth quarter," said Duling, a 6-foot-2 sophomore post player who led the team in scoring average (11.7 points) entering last Thursday's game against Grove City. "We've improved in practice trying to play out game situations, but we're still not getting it done in a real game. I think we're learning from these experiences, though. We'll be a better team in the second half."