For The Tribune
Medora was facing a 10-point third quarter deficit in its girls basketball season opener Saturday night when it turned up the pressure.
The Hornets forced 26 of Columbus Christian’s 43 turnovers in the second half and rallied for a 43-34 victory.
“We made some adjustments at halftime,” Medora coach Brad McCammon said. “It took us a little while to get into what we wanted defensively. We knew we had to stop their penetration because their little point guard (Kayla Jones) was getting past our defensive pressure initially. We were able to slow her down, and then we knew if we could block out and rebound, then we had a pretty good shot.”
Jones scored 12 of her 16 points in the first half when the Crusaders built a 23-14 lead. Two free throws and a basket by Lillie Hatfield in the final minute of the first half allowed the Hornets to cut the deficit to 23-13.
Columbus Christian scored the first five points of the third quarter to open a 10-point lead, but then Medora scored the final 10 points of the period to tie the game at 28-28.
“We had a pep talk, and we realized we needed to get our heads in the game and not worry about the negative things,” Hatfield said. “We had to work as a team, and we had to do this.”
The Crusaders opened the fourth quarter with a basket to take the lead for the final time. Two free throws and a basket by Gweneth Morris gave the Hornets the lead for good.
Columbus Christian was within 37-34 with 2 1/2 minutes remaining, but Hatfield made four consecutive free throws to put it away.
“The second half, we did one amazing thing — we made free throws,” McCammon said. “The first half, we didn’t. We were trying to force things a little early I think being first-game jitters, but we kind of settled down the second half.”
Hatfield finished with a game-high 23 points to lead Medora, while Morris added eight. Kelsey Turner and Breanna Pfeiffer each grabbed six rebounds.
The Hornets are halfway to their win totals from each of the past two seasons.
“It’s awesome,” Hatfield said. “We’re not used to this, so it’s awesome. “We have a lot of doubters, and everyone thought we weren’t going to come in here and win tonight, so we just gave it all we had. We worked as a team, and we played as hard as we could.”