It wasn't the kind of start Harrisburg head coach Jake Stewart was hoping for as his No. 1-ranked Lady Bulldogs clung to a two-point lead (10-8) after one period of play at 4-12 (0-5) Herrin Wednesday.
During a time out, Stewart spoke tersely to his squad, reminding his players that they have to come ready to play every night, regardless of the competition or crowd size.
The speech seemed to motivate the Bulldogs as they picked up their intensity and outscored Herrin 24-2 over the next eight minutes to take a commanding 34-10 lead into intermission and went on to win the league match, 61-35.
"We were a little worried about coming out flat tonight after playing in the championship game of the Benton Holiday Tournament Friday night against Carterville," Stewart said. "When we went to the press at the start of the second quarter, it seemed to wake us up a little."
Stewart said Herrin deserves credit for "a good game plan" as the Tigers sagged defensively on the Bulldogs' 6-foot-2 senior center Matty Hawkins, forcing Harrisburg to shoot the ball from the perimeter.
Eventually, the shots began to fall. Jessica Hopson hit a few shots and finished with 13 points. But it was senior point guard Lotte Miller who really ignited the offense with her quick hands and footwork off the press. She finished with a team-high 17 points.
Hawkins nearly pulled off a triple double, tallying nine points, nine rebounds and nine blocked shots.
Karsyn Davis and Brooke Meylor followed with eight points each. Lydia Miller came off the bench to spell Hawkins when she ran into foul trouble and netted six points.
Herrin was led offensively by senior guard Madison Russell's 12 points. Also in double figures was junior center Grace Lenhoff with 10.
Stewart said the team's initial goals were to win the Ohio Division of the River to River Conference and total 20 wins. Already 17-0 overall, both tasks are well within reach.
Additional goals now are to be the top seed in the postseason tournament and to advance as far into the state playoff series as possible.
Harrisburg also won the junior varsity game.