Huron girls basketball team uses defense to complete season sweep of Pioneer
The Huron High School girls basketball team came out like it planned to score 100 points Friday night against Pioneer. The River Rats put up 15 points in the first 4:09 of the game.
But after that, Huron let its defense take over and cruised to a 50-31 win on senior night.
The game started on a torrid pace, with 3-pointers on the first three possessions. When Logan Sims made two free throws with 3:51 to go in the first quarter, Huron led 15-5. Remarkably, the teams would combine for five points in the next 9:20 of play.
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"We came out with intensity, and I think being short on players we kind of got tired," Sims said.
Huron (12-5, 9-0 Southeastern Conference Red Division) coach Steve Vinson said the team was missing two players, one to illness and one due to academics problems.
"I think we were half-a-step slow," Vinson said. "We got our hands on a lot of balls, got a lot of tips, but just didn't quite come away with the steals."
Pioneer (7-9, 4-6) seemed to have a chance to get back in the game late in the half. The Pioneers had trimmed a 20-8 deficit to 20-12 on two quick baskets and were chasing down a loose ball at midcourt with less than 30 seconds left.
The ball was on the floor, both teams wrestling for it, no whistle coming. Eventually a Huron player flipped it to Sims, who had an uncontested lay-in. A Pioneer assistant coach was given a technical for arguing for a jump ball and Alexis Garner made one of the two technical free-throws, giving Huron a 23-12 lead at the half.
Pioneer never got the margin to single digits again.
"That there probably took a little kick out of our girls because that should've been a jump ball," Pioneer coach Crystal Westfield said.
Pioneer was held to nine field goals in the game, four second-half field goals, and one in the third quarter, when the Pioneers were scoreless for the last 4:51.
"Our goal out of our last game was to pick it up on the defensive end, and I think we accomplished that," Sims said.
Said Vinson: "I thought our defense was pretty good tonight."
At the same time, Pioneer handled the Huron press better than the teams' first meeting, which Huron led 45-15 after three quarters.
"The girls were much more calm," Westfield said. "They were prepared mentally better for the pressure Huron was going to put on us."
What hurt Pioneer's comeback chances the most, according to Westfield, was foul trouble on seniors Brittany Kaplan, who fouled out, and Janese Honeycutt.
"Without Brittany Kaplan and Janese Honeycutt on the floor, it's really hard to get that momentum going," Westfield said. "And we talked about that before the game, that we need to have them in the game."
Vinson also lamented his team's fouling; each team shot 22 free throws, with Huron making 15 and Pioneer nine.
"I think we fouled a little bit too much," Vinson said. "I think they got some points at the free-throw line that we kind of gave them."
Garner scored 16 and Sims 12 for Huron. Alexus Pace-Patterson scored seven, all in the second half, for Pioneer.