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The first half of the Mid-Prairie girls game against North Cedar was probably their worst half of the season and coach Stephen Bender didn’t sugarcoat it.
“(It was) one of the worst halves of basketball one of my teams have had,” Bender said.
So heading into the locker room down 26-19 and after a second quarter in which Mid-Prairie scored only four points, Bender said he challenged the girls at halftime to step things up.
“I really challenged the girls at halftime, I wasn’t happy with what I saw and they weren’t either,” Bender said. “One thing I had mentioned was, if you want a chance to win the conference you have to get a chance to win this game. They came out and really responded.”
In the second half the defensive intensity upped for the Golden Hawks and the offense started to poke holes in the 3-2 zone of North Cedar. That led to Mid-Prairie allowing only 15 points the rest of the game while tallying 38 for themselves in the 53-41 victory.
The second half started with a 7-0 run for the Golden Hawks and senior Addie Rath and junior Shae Becker finding the bottom of the net after a first half in which they struggled. Rath finished the game with 14 points and Becker added 12.
One big thing that changed from the first to second half was the Mid-Prairie defense not allowing North Cedar to easily pass out of the high post and set up their offense efficiently.
“Defensively we kept the ball out of the high post a lot better and went to man defense in the fourth quarter and I thought we did well in that,” Bender said.
Mid-Prairie’s other seniors Anna Vilovchik and Delaney Smith had strong second half performances as well, with Vilovchik going 4-4 from the free-throw line during the fourth quarter and Delaney Smith having a season high nine points on three 3-point shots.
Mid-Prairie moves to 8-2 on the season and has one of their toughest weeks ahead of them. The Golden Hawks will play four games in eight days, with two of those coming against ranked opponents.
First they’ll travel to Tipton on Tuesday, and play a team they defeated 58-52 earlier in the season. They then get West Branch at home on Friday, the Bears defeated Mid-Prairie 54-50 before the break.
Mid-Prairie will then play back-to-back and travel to Class 2A No. 10 Bellevue on Saturday. Bellevue is 9-3 on the season. Then next Tuesday they will host Class 2A No. 9 Iowa City Regina. The Regals defeated Mid-Prairie 50-46 earlier in the season.
Mid-Prairie: 11; 4; 18; 20; 53
North Cedar: 10; 16; 6; 9; 41