St. Elizabeth finally found a way to negate Smyrna’s size advantage in the second half and pulled away from the Eagles for a 56-37 victory in the quarterfinals of the DIAA Girls Basketball State Tournament on Thursday.
The top-seeded Vikings held a 24-21 halftime lead, with Smyrna scoring the bulk of their first-half points on second-chance opportunities.
But in the second half, St. Elizabeth stopped the Eagle rebounders from getting to the ball and limited their second chances.
“We knew that they were getting a lot of rebounds, and that’s how they were getting a lot of their points,” the Vikings’ Sabrina Hackendorn said.
“We knew that if we really wanted to win this game and make a statement, we had to shut that down. We did that in the second half.”
One of the reasons Smyrna had so many second chances in the first half was that the Eagles were getting in better position to rebound the ball.
During halftime, the Viking coaching staff made adjustments and told its players where they needed to be to prevent the Eagles from getting offensive rebounds.
St. Elizabeth took that advice to heart and began to rebound better in the second half.
Those rebounds ignited their running game, resulting in the Vikings outscoring Smyrna 18-6 in the third quarter and taking a 42-27 leading heading into the final quarter.
St. Elizabeth put the game out of reach when it started the fourth quarter on a 12-2 run to build a 25-point lead at 54-29 with less than four minutes remaining. The Vikings knew if they wanted to advance to the next round, they had to pick up their energy on the floor.
“We went out there and knew to keep the lead and keep going, and that’s what we did,” said Macy Robinson, who scored a game-high 19 points.
“We knew when we went out, we had to have a lot of momentum. The intensity was there, and we just exploded on the court.”
Hackendorn added 11 points to the St. Elizabeth cause, including six in the second half. The strong second half didn’t come as a surprise to Viking coach Tom Ferrier.
“They’re very intelligent, easy to coach, know what to do, and they know what needs to be done,” Ferrier said.
Brionna Johnson and Alexxus Stroud scored 17 and 10 points, respectively, for the Eagles.