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Trailing by as many as 11 points early in the second quarter, Highland looked to their leaders for a pair of key runs that allowed them to overtake New London 39-33 as they headed into the Thanksgiving holiday sitting at 2-0.
“They played hard. They never gave up, stuck after it defensively and just kept plodding along. We did a good job of being composed late in the game, taking some nice shots and being patient,” head coach Jody Fink said
After taking an early 3-2 lead, Highland would go on a scoring drought to last into the second quarter as New London took a 14-3 lead, including a pair of three-point shots. Compounding the Huskies’ scoring problems early was their inability to make their free throws at the line.
Highland struggled, going just 2-11 in the first half and 3-13 through three.
Defensively, the Huskies managed to generate 13 turnovers in the first half, but largely failed to convert them into points early.
“We’ve got to run our lanes, for one, and then we’ve got to stay disciplined on that and really run the floor,” Fink said, noting that too often breaks ended with a wild shot.
Junior Aly Stokes spearheaded the second quarter charge that brought the Huskies within two, including the first five points of what would be a 9-0 run in response to New London’s 12-0 streak.
They went into the half trailing by just four, despite the struggles at the line, a topic Fink broached with his team.
“If we shoot 50 percent from the free throw line, we have the lead. So, we just had to kind of take our time and think about what we were doing,” he said.
The teams remained in a tight back and forth throughout the rest of the second and into the third, with New London managing to get some breathing room with a quick four-point spurt at the end of the third quarter to lead 28-24.
Highland then went on an 8-0 run with a pair of buckets from each Abbie Miller and Murphy Beinhart, managing to convert some chances on the break with Fink praising the way they attached the basket.
The Huskies put the game on ice by doing what they hadn’t been able to do in the first three quarters: making their free throws. They managed to convert over 50 percent of their free throws, going 5/9 in the final quarter, including both in a one-and-one to push the lead to six with 33 seconds left.
Stokes led the team with 14 points and 10 rebounds in a double-double while helping to stifle New London on offense with seven blocks. She was followed closely with 11 points from Beinhart and nine from Miller, something Fink said should be expected throughout the year.
“Nobody’s going to be the dominant scorer, I don’t think, not that anybody couldn’t be because we’ve got the ability that they could be, but right now we’re going to spread the ball around,” Fink said.
“We’ve got a bench that we’re training and getting in and we’re playing a lot more players than we’ve played in the past. So, it’s early in the season and those are just things we’re going to keep working on.”
New London: 10; 10; 8; 5 33
Highland: 3; 13; 8; 15 39
Aly Stokes 14
Murphy Beinhart 11
Aly Stokes 10
Brylee Carolan 10
Sarah Schneider 5
Abbie Miller 4
Aly Stokes 5
Murphy Beinhart 4
Aly Stokes 7