Oak Hill’s Kaitlyn Ridley, right, wraps up Winthrop’s Aaliyah WilsonFalcone as they vie for control of a rebound during the second half of Friday night’s girls’ varsity basketball game in Winthrop. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)
WINTHROP — Oak Hill coach Michael Labonte and Winthrop coach Joe Burnham wanted their respective teams to dictate the tempo of Friday night’s game. What transpired during the first eight minutes wasn’t what either one of them was looking for, however.
A pair of Oak Hill free throws were the only points of the first quarter, but the Raiders made up for that with a high-scoring second half in a 50-26 MVC girls’ basketball victory over the Ramblers.
Labonte said he’s never seen such a low-scoring first quarter, “and I hope I never see another one.”
“It was ugly in that first half, and in that first quarter,” Burnham said.
Both teams employed zone defenses to start. The Ramblers (7-5) sent out a full-court press, as well. That led to plenty of off-target 3-point attempts and some rushed, off-balance layup tries when passes were made to the post.
“They dared us to shoot, they really kind of packed it into the paint, and we didn’t respond well to that,” Burnham said.
The game stayed scoreless into its seventh minute, and it wasn’t until Abby Nadeau drained a couple fouls shots with 1:03 left that the scoreboard was able to add some points.
The Ramblers joined the scoring 1:20 into the second with a 3-pointer from Kena Souza, giving them their first and only lead, until Raiders (7-3) freshman Audrey Bauer answered with a 3 of her own 30 seconds later.
Bauer added two more points to pace the Raiders at halftime and finished with a game-high 18.
“Not bad for a little freshman, huh?” Labonte said. “She works hard every day in practice, she’s unbelievably coachable, she’s a great kid. She’s fun.”
Winthrop was able to tie the game 7-7 with just over three minutes left in the half on a Natalie Frost jumper and two Aaliyah WilsonFalcone free throws, but Nadeau’s layup with 1:40 left made it 9-7 for Oak Hill, and that score stood going into the intermission.
Labonte told his team to “just to slow things down” at halftime.
“I said, ‘We’re better than that.’ That was basically the big thing. ‘You’re better than this. Play at your tempo. You control it,'” Labonte said. “And I thought they did a much better job of that in the second half.”
First the Raiders had to get over the hurdle that was Winthrop’s press. Jillian Schmelzer started the second half by stealing an Oak Hill pass and going the other way for a layup to tie the game 9-9.
“We talked about the tempo that we want to dictate comes from our press,” Burnham said. “So if we want to press them we have to score some baskets.”
Those baskets continued to be hard to find for the Ramblers, but the Raiders’ offense started to heat up in the third. Nadeau hit a 3 just over a minute in to give her team the lead for good. She dropped in nine of her 15 points in the period, including a pair of layups behind the Winthrop zone.
“She made her presence known down there. Very physical, used her body well, and kind of dominated the second half on the boards,” Burnham said. “We had a hard time with her.”
Bauer and Desirae Dumais both hit 3s of their own in the third, Kaitlyn Ridley had a pair of 2-pointers, and Oak Hill’s lead blossomed to 30-18 heading into the fourth.
Things didn’t slow down from there. Bauer scored half of her points in the fourth, including making 4 of 6 free throws after twice being fouled behind the 3-point line.
“We want to go 100 miles an hour all the time. When we learn to slow it down we become a much better team,” Labonte said. “We’re still struggling to get that figured out, but when we do you score 41 in the second half instead of nine in the first half.”
Schmelzer and Souza scored six points apiece to lead the Ramblers, who have lost three straight after winning four in a row.
Oak Hill’s Kaitlyn Ridley, left and Sadie Waterman, right, try to wrestle a rebound away from Winthrop’s Katie Perkins during the second half of Friday night’s girls’ varsity basketball game in Winthrop. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)
Winthrop’s Kena Souza, right, grabs onto Oak Hill’s Sadie Waterman, left during a struggle for a rebound that was called a jump ball during Wednesday night’s game in Winthrop (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)
Oak Hill’s Julia Noel drives to the basket for a layup while being defended by Winthrop’s Makayla Wilbert during the second half of Friday night’s girls’ varsity basketball game in Winthrop. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)
Oak Hill’s Kaitlyn Ridley, left and Winthrop’s Aaliyah WilsonFalcone jockey for position under the basket as they vie for a rebound during Friday night’s game in Winthrop. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)