With his team trailing Southwestern (Hanover) 19-18 at halftime Saturday afternoon, Trinity Lutheran girls coach Mike Lang said he told his team it needed to play with more energy.
The Cougars took his message to heart and outscored the Rebels 31-17 in the second half to register a 49-36 win in the Bollinger Athletic Complex.
“We told them (at halftime) it’s not like they weren’t trying,” Lang said. “We knew they were trying, but they looked tired, they looked sluggish. We’ve got a funny saying: ‘Who’s going to drive our energy bus.’ We didn’t have anybody driving it in the first half.”
A basket by Savannah Harweger early in the third period put the Cougars in front to stay. Jodi Goecker and Harwager followed with layups and the Cougars had a 24-19 lead at 4:30.
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After the Rebels scored two points, Goecker, Whitney Rogers and Piper Acton added field goals for a 30-21 lead.
Southwestern cut the difference to 32-26 two minutes into the fourth period before Abby Hackman scored on back-to-back power moves to the basket for a 37-26 lead with four minutes remaining.
“The second half I felt we played with a lot more energy,” Lang said. “The scoreboard reflected that.”
Hackman was the tallest player on the floor and her statistics reflected that with 20 points and 17 rebounds.
“When Abby decides she wants to take the game over, Abby can take the game over,” Lang said.
The score was tied 6-6 when Hackman scored a basket and converted a 3-point play late in the first period, then added two field goals early in the second period to help Trinity take a 15-10 lead.
“(Hackman) wanted to turn immediately to the basket,” Lang said. “Southwestern did a great job on the help side with her. They had her scouted really well. When you finish with 20 and 17 that’s a heck of a night.
“It’d also a tough matchup for her when you’ve got a team that their tallest player is 5-6. That means she has to get out on the perimeter and guard somebody as well. I’m really pleased with the effort she gave today, and once again relentless on the boards.”
The Rebels shot only 11-for-52 from the floor.
“I’ve been real pleased with our defense of late,” Lang said. “We let (Abby) Ralston get loose on us a couple times. She’s a good player and we knew she was going to be their best, so we said we’ve got to pressure them the whole time.
“It’s good having a team effort in the second half. Getting Piper back in there, having her and Savannah — they both did a great job defensively, so we were able to give them a lot of length.”
Harweger finished with nine points, while Goecker and Acton scored eight each.
Rogers had 11 rebounds to help the Cougars to a 46-25 advantage in that department.
Ralston topped the Rebels (4-14) with 16 points.
Lang said the two things the he was disappointed in were turnovers (23) and Southwestern’s offensive rebounds.
“In the first half we gave up seven offensive rebounds,” he said. “You can’t give up seven offensive rebounds against anybody.
“You can tell that they’re starting to get it. They’re trusting the process and they’re just getting better every game.”
The Cougars, who started out 1-7, are 6-4 since then and take a 7-11 record into Tuesday’s home game against Waldron.