with gallery: Ariel Bethea's 26 points saves Huron from sluggish start in win over Skyline
It’s understandable why the Huron High School girls basketball team might have take Skyline lightly on Tuesday night. The last time the team’s met, Huron won by 42 points and Skyline managed just five points in the entire second half.
It’s not exactly the rematch a coach or his players lose sleep over.
But Skyline wasn’t interested in what happened the first time the teams met. On Tuesday, the Eagles players were ready to play, as evidenced by Skyline’s 24-19 halftime lead.
But sophomore guard Ariel Bethea helped Huron (14-5, 11-1 SEC Red) overcome its sluggish start, scoring 17 of her game-high 26 points in the second half, propelling the River Rats a to a 55-40 win.
Bethea had a third quarter for the ages, starting the frame on a personal 8-0 run to give Huron the lead.
“I felt like it was my time I had to take over and help the team because we were struggling,” Bethea said.
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“That’s why I was so upset at half time. That’s the kind of thing that she’s capable of,” said Huron coach Steve Vinson. “We just didn’t bring that intensity in the first half.”
Bethea was out in front of Huron’s defensive pressure in the second half, which fueled the offense. Bethea scored in transition on three steals, fed Payton Sims on another, and Micah Robinson scored in transition off of two steals as well.
“I think (the defensive pressure) is real important,” Bethea said. “I just feel like when I get the steal, it helps get the offense going good.”
Huron couldn’t get anything going in the first half, particularly the second quarter. A Mikayla Ward basket in the first 20 seconds of the frame gave Huron a 15-8 lead, but it would be the last basket for the River Rats for then next seven minutes of play. Huron shot 0-for-12 in that span.
Skyline (7-12, 2-10 SEC Red) shot 66 percent (6-of-9) from the field in the frame including hitting 3-of-4 3-point shots and stretched its lead to nine at one point.
“I just think they weren’t mentally ready to play. Maybe they were taking them for granted, I’m not sure, because of the outcome of last game,” Vinson said. “We just didn’t have the type of intensity we had in the third quarter, that was very clear.”
Alexis Garner gave Huron some momentum toward the end of the half after taking a charge and breaking the scoring drought on the other end of the court with under a minute to play.
Vinson said the plays gave his team some energy going into the locker room. And after two straight games with sluggish starts, he expects the lull is over for his team.
“They won’t come out flat on Friday I guarantee you cuz we’re playing Dexter,” Vinson said. “Then after that, you know because we’re one and done, I don’t think it’ll happen anymore. I don’t think it’ll happen anymore.”