While sitting on the bench because of foul trouble for two quarters, Edinburgh junior Brianna Howard used the time to her advantage.
“Sitting there on the bench I was able to watch the game and know where to attack the defense once I got back in,” Howard said.
And attack she did.
Howard scored 12 fourth-quarter points, including a perfect 3 of 3 from behind the 3-point line, to lead the Lancers to a 42-38 victory against Greenwood Christian Academy in a Class A sectional semifinal Friday night at Morristown.
Struggling from the field and committing turnover after turnover, the Lancers faced an eight-point deficit heading into halftime. Edinburgh coach Amy Macy had a simple message for her team in the locker room.
“I told them that we weren’t executing our game plan we had worked on leading up to this game,” Macy said. “We were giving up way too many offensive rebounds and not attacking the zone on offense.”
Entering the third quarter, Macy was confident the Lancers could cut the lead in half to allow themselves a chance in the final quarter.
Greenwood Christian dominated on the offensive end throughout the night but struggled against a feisty Edinburgh defense in the third quarter. Coming out in a press defense, the Lancers created turnovers and limited the Cougars on the offensive end.
After giving up 21 first-half points, Edinburgh (9-14) limited Greenwood Christian (15-10) to three points in the third quarter. With time running out in the period, junior Vanessa Haskins hit her second 3-pointer on the night, cutting the Cougars’ lead to two points.
The fourth quarter began with a 6-0 run by Greenwood Christian, led by senior Hannah Peters, who would score 8 points on the night. But the tide turned when Howard entered the game and began to take over.
“She is a difference-maker on the court and at times tries to do too much, which is what got her into foul trouble,” Macy said. “In that fourth quarter, Brianna knew she had to be there for her team and I think she put the team on her shoulders and really gave us a fire.”
With the game tied at 38 with a little over a minute left, Howard was in the right place at the right time for an offensive rebound put-back basket, giving the Lancers their first lead of the game.
A defensive deflection by the Lancers on the following possession gave Greenwood Christian the ball with an inbound on the sideline. With perfect timing, Howard jumped the inbounds pass and stole the ball near midcourt. Howard was pushed hard from behind after the steal, leading to a technical foul on Greenwood Christian.
Howard would only sink one of the two technical foul shots, but another turnover by Greenwood Christian on the next possession sealed the win for the Lancers, who play Morristown in tonight’s championship final.
Allie Schooler scored 12 points for the Lancers. Sarah Mangan had seven for the Cougars.
“We kept up our intensity the entire night which was our message,” Macy said. “At the half I told the girls I had confidence in them, and I fully expected to still play on Saturday.”