Cougars force 29 turnovers in win

Struggling to get any momentum in the first half, Trinity Lutheran’s girls basketball needed a change at intermission.

Cougars coach Donna Sullivan knew the solution: Switching to a press defense.

After being held to a 10-10 tie at half, the Cougars’ girls basketball team outscored Hauser 40-13 in the final 16 minutes of play for a 50-23 victory at the Bollinger Athletic Complex on Saturday.

Trinity’s defense helped force 29 Jets turnovers in the game.

Both teams struggled to find the bottom of the net in the first half.

Sydney Jaynes got the ball off the opening tip and scored a layup to give the Cougars (2-0) a lead fewer than 10 seconds into the contest.

Tessa Sims and Sarah Tedder got field goals to drop for the Jets, and the team led 4-2 with 4:28 on the clock.

Trinity’s Abby Hackman got back-to-back baskets to fall before a shot from Taylor Henderson and buzzer-beating jumper from Tedder put the Jets up 8-6 at the end of eight minutes.

Shaky ball-handling, by both sides, continued in the second quarter.

Three minutes into the second, the teams had combined for 10 turnovers.

Savannah Harweger and Hackman scored four points for the Cougars and Grace Hasler netted the Jets’ only basket before the halftime buzzer.

Hauser turned the ball over 13 times and Trinity had eight giveaways in the first half.

Trinity made five of 22 field goal attempts in that span and neither team shot a free throw.

Out of the break, the Cougars switched their defense.

Sullivan’s tactic paid off, with the Jets turned the ball over 12 times in the third quarter.

Trinity opened the second half with a 7-0 run by the 5:19-mark.

Leading 19-12, the Cougars strung together 10 answered points to lead 29-12 with 1:14 on the clock. In that span, the Cougars’ Savannah Harweger amassed 10 points.

Following split free throws by Grace Hasler, Trinity ended the quarter on a buzzer-beater by Piper Acton to go up 33-13.

“We need to be more aggressive and push the ball,” Sullivan said. “We want to be quick, but we want to be in control. In that first half — especially the first quarter — we were really out of control. We weren’t in sync at all. I thought we got better in the second half.”

The Jets continued to struggle with ball handling in the fourth quarter, turning the ball over another six times.

Morgan Gabbard scored a pair of baskets and Harweger added another, as the Cougars led 39-16 with 5:42 left in the game.

While the Jets would get to the foul line a handful of times, they made just two of seven tries down the stretch.

Harweger added five more points in the final 2:29 of the game, and the Cougars held on for the win.

Harweger led the Cougars with 19 points, Jaynes added 10 and Hackman had nine. Henderson topped the Jets with nine points while Tedder chipped in six.

“(Harweger) is so athletic,” Sullivan said. “She runs the floor and can get above other girls. She had a great game.

“We had contributions from about everyone. I thought Morgan had a nice game and Piper played well.”

On the boards, Trinity won the rebounding margin 48-38.

Sullivan was displeased with the Cougars’ free throw shooting, making six of 17 tries.

“I really thought that coming into the season we were a better free throw shooting team than any other team I’ve been associated with,” Sullivan said. “I told them in the locker room that we need to change what we’re doing. I’ve sat there and seen them hit 13 in-a-row. You need to have them. We want to get to the line 20 times in a game.”

The Cougars will host Brownstown Central on Tuesday.

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Jordan Morey is sports editor at The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at jmorey@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.