That’s what Craig Jipson and his coaching staff wanted their team to realize Friday. As much as they’d heard about a lack of success in their third quarters, the Edward Little girls’ basketball team was told to not believe the hype.
“He told us that we just had to forget about it and keep doing our best and not let it fluster us that much,” said sophomore guard Kory Norcross.
That can be easier said than done, especially when Hampden Academy has erased a sizable deficit and crept within two points in the third quarter.
That’s what happened to EL Friday. After opening a 17-point lead in the first half, the Red Eddies watched the Broncos rally. Hampden put a scare into EL with a 12-0 run and got within a basket in the third.
EL settled itself and responded to Hampden’s rally for a 60-50 Eastern A quarterfinal win.
“If you look back on the stats, in all our other games, we actually have beaten most teams in the third quarter,” said Norcross. “We just got it into our heads that we always have bad third quarters because of what people said.”
The Red Eddies advance to the semifinals for the second straight year. They’ll face sixth-ranked Skowhegan next Wednesday.
“When you get to the tournament, you’re going to have to withstand some punches to the face,” said Jipson. “There’s going to be times in the game that’s hard. We took some punches, but we kept coming back.”
EL got some key baskets from Brooke Reynolds and Norcross in the third quarter that kept Hampden at bay. Then EL opened the lead again in the fourth, aided by 10 from Tianna Harriman.
“We were just thinking about playing our best and whatever will happen will happen,” said Reynolds of the third. “I was kind of nervous. I was trying to do my best. I hope that I did. Everybody else did really good.”
Ashlee Arnold led EL (16-3) with 17 points. Harriman finished with 15 while Norcross added 13.
Hampden (10-9) got 22 from Jordan Maxwell. She finished with six 3’s, one shy of the Eastern A tourney record. Ashley Danforth added 18. Hamdpen had eight 3’s as the two teams combined for 16 from beyond the arc.
“I give all the credit to Maxwell,” said Jipson. “She just played like an absolute warrior. What a great player as a junior.”
Down 31-14, Maxwell hit five 3’s in the third to lead the Broncos charge. Hampden scored 10 straight and used a 12-2 run to get within 33-31. EL didn’t score a basket until 4:10 remained in the quarter.
“I don’t think we played great defense in the first half,” said Jipson. “They just didn’t hit their shots. It wasn’t like we were lights out on defense. In the third quarter, they were hitting those shots.”
Hampden shot 8-for-12 in the third while EL missed its first five shots. The Red Eddies got baskets when they needed them though.
After a Maxwell 3 cut it to two, Reynolds scored on a leaner in the post. Norcross followed with a basket off an inbounds play. Maxwell answered with a 3 to make it 37-34, but Reynolds scored again.
“I don’t shoot that much, and I was obviously nervous,” said Reynolds, a freshman forward. “I was just hoping to get them in and hoping that I could score and build up the lead a little bit.”
Maxwell hit another 3 to make it 39-37 with 1:45 left, but EL finished the quarter with six straight. Crissy Lewis hit a short jumper. Then Arnold hit a 3, her fourth of the game, and added a free throw to end the quarter, 45-37.
“That made us feel so much better,” said Norcross. “I was like, ‘Alright, we’ve got this. Calm down a little bit.”
Hampden got within six after a Danforth basket to start the fourth, but EL got a pair of 3’s from Harriman to pad the lead. EL maintained that advantage the rest of the way.
“We made some big stops when we needed it,” said Jipson. “In the last four minutes, Emily Hartnett did a great job on Maxwell.”
EL raced out to the early19-2 lead as Arnold scored 11 in the first quarter, including a trio of 3’s. Meanwhile, Hampden shot just 1-for-9 after an 0-for-6 start. EL turned the ball over six times in the second and went over three minutes without a hoop. Baskets by Danforth and a 3 from Maxwell trimmed the lead but a Kate Sawyer basket had the lead at 31-14 at the half.