By RJ Walters / Daily News Sports Editor
As published in the Hillsdale Daily News on Feb. 18
The Quincy Orioles played their worst half of basketball this season according to their head coach and trailed by as many as 16 points midway through the third quarter Tuesday, but somehow still pulled out a Big Eight victory.
After going scoreless in the first quarter and putting up only nine points in the first half, the Orioles rallied behind some timely offensive firepower from seniors Megan Loveberry and Krisy Force to pull out a 40-35 road win at Jonesville.
“I just told them great comeback and I was proud of them,” Quincy head coach Bob Stewart said. “At halftime I think my comment was ‘That’s the crappiest half we’ve played all year and we’re only down nine, so you take care of the business you need to and you’ll be okay,’ and we did.”
The Orioles (11-6 overall, 6-6 Big Eight) didn’t even get on the scoreboard until the 6:49 mark of the second quarter, but it mattered little because the Comets couldn’t capitalize on their quick start.
Ashlende Teller led the Comets to an 18-9 lead at the intermission with eight points off of strong drives to the lane, but Jonesville’s defense went from causing havoc in the first half to losing track of Oriole players in the second.
“I think we lost some intensity in the second half obviously and they knocked down shots they didn’t make in the first half,” Jonesville head coach Tom Dunn said. “They got open, they hit shots and I don’t think we played hard enough on the defensive end, so they deserved to win the game and they outplayed us in the first half.”
For the first 20 minutes or so the Orioles settled for contested outside jumpers, but something clicked after the Comets went ahead by as much as 27-11 with 3:49 left in the third quarter.
Marissa Wilkinson put in a pair of quick buckets, Loveberry started finding teammates who had open looks and Jonesville “missed some bunnies on the other end” as Dunn put it.
The Orioles finished the period on a 10-0 run and eventually took their first lead of the contest on a Loveberry triple with 4:45 remaining.
It was a big basket from the senior after a night full of shots that fell short and few good scoring chances.
“Tom and I were talking about this before hand, that if she has a game where she shoots poorly she does other things well and involves other people and gets rebounds and steals and I’m sure she still did a pretty doggone job,” Stewart said.
To help her out Force knocked down several key free-throw line jump shots and the Comets couldn’t draw closer than three in the final two minutes.
“We knew that they were going to have to either guard Megan down on the blocks or Krisy at the elbow or our perimeter people and I think we made them make some decisions and it paid off,” Stewart said.
Loveberry finished the contest with a game-high 13 points, Force added nine and Sarah Denning pitched in eight for Quincy.
For Jonesville Teller scored 12 and had four steals, while Shaila Rossman tallied six points and 10 boards.
The two teams will butt heads against on March 2 in the first round of districts at Quincy.
“The girls know it’s going to be a war the third time and we’re just going to go get ’em the best we can,” Dunn said. “I expect it’s going to be a backyard brawl. We got complacent when we got a lead and we’ve got to learn we can’t do that.”