LAPEL — After a tough loss in the county rematch game between Pendleton Heights and Lapel on Tuesday, Bulldog Coach Zach Newby said his team went through one of its most intense practices they’d had this season on Wednesday.
The effort paid off Thursday when the Bulldogs (13-7) downed visiting Muncie Central (11-5) 62-52.
“We wanted to respond after Pendleton. We played well for stretches, then played poorly for stretches,” Newby said. “We knew we wanted to fix it, and I thought we came out tonight and executed that.”
From the opening tip off, Ashlynn Allman put up shot after shot, hitting her mark and tallying 14 first-period points as the Bulldogs jumped out to a 19-9 first quarter lead. Allman would go on to lead the team with 22 points, 20 coming in the first half.
The Bearcats’ patient approach to offense made steady progress in the second quarter closing the gap to one, 22-23, before Jasiah Scaife’s bucket gave Muncie Central a one-point lead with four minutes remaining in the first half.
The Bulldogs and Bearcats exchanged buckets, and Lapel retook a one-point lead.
Jaylee Hubble popped a trey to give the Bulldogs a boost of momentum.
Then Deannaya Haseman put up her own three just seconds later, and the Bulldogs were up 31-28 to slow the Bearcats scoring run.
Lapel never lost the lead again, ending the half up 34-29.
“We lost focus a little bit defensively in the second (quarter),” Newby said. “And a lot of that was rebounding. We’ve worked and talked about that a lot. It’s been an Achilles for us all year. We’ve got to get defensive rebounds.”
Newby said they cleaned up their rebounding in the second half, and the effort made a difference.
While Allman scored just once in the second half, Hubble took up the scoring charge. Hubble hit four from beyond the perimeter to end the night with 17 points.
The Bulldogs’ largest lead was in the third quarter 48-34.
Each time, Lapel went on a run, the Bearcats answered, putting themselves within striking distance at 52-46 with a little more than two minutes remaining in the game.
Kerith Renihan, who had been scoreless most of the game, hit key baskets in the waning minutes and went to the free throw line in the final seconds, giving the Bulldogs the cushion they needed.
Newby was quick to praise the Bearcats saying they were an opponent they needed to prepare for and was no longer the team who had been down in previous years.
“We knew we were in for a grind,” he said.
The Bulldogs will play host to Wapahani Jan. 25 in their last regular season game.