It was not a halftime speech any of the Warrior Run girls wanted to hear.
But with shoulders slumped, every player grudgingly made their way to the locker room.
It all changed for the Defenders in the third quarter when Laura Bastian finished a 3-point play with her first free throw. The quick swing - mixed with a gut-check style halftime speech - sparked a 9-0 run that Warrior Run turned into a 45-32 win over Montoursville on Thursday night.
Warrior Run’s Mackenzie Hays, with ball, battles for control during Thursday night’s game at Montoursville. Montoursville’s Ally Yocum is behind Hays on the play. Warrior Run’s Tay Parker is to the right of Hays and Laura Bastian looks on from the left. The Defenders rallied for the win. View additional photos at cu.sungazette.com
"The first half was probably the worst half we've played all year. It came down to us not having any guts and letting them dictate to us what we could offensively," Warrior Run coach Jon Weaver said. "I challenged the girls and told them it was going to take guts to get back into the game."
Bastian showed she had all the guts needed for a comeback as her 3-point play helped spark the game's decisive run.
"Once we hit that run, we just kept going and going," Bastian said. "It just didn't stop."
The impact of her play was immediate as the Defenders (13-6) received baskets from Chloe Eisenhuth and Abby Fisher to extend the run and get within a basket of taking the lead.
Carley Mill, who was the only Montoursville (15-5) player with points from the field in the third quarter, kept the Warriors in the game with five points over the stretch. Her initial basket stopped the 9-0 run Warrior Run used to open the second half. She then buried a trey after Eisenhuth tied the score at 23 apiece.
But, with the 3-point play to open already in her pocket, Bastian ended the third quarter with a rebound and layup to get the Defenders within 26-25.
Bastian, who is known for her toughness on the soccer pitch, made two of her four attempted shots and converted all three of her free throws to finish with seven points.
"Laura was one of the girls I got on at halftime. I told her to step up and get the job done," Weaver said. "When she got that ball I knew she was going to the bucket. That was a huge jumpstart."
Montoursville's defense made it tough to penetrate off the dribble in the first half. It also made it difficult to get the ball to Steph Shamburg in the post.
The Defenders turned the ball over 12 times as a result and were limited to 10 first-half points. And as tough as it was, eight of those points came from Shamburg, who had to fight through a group of defenders to get each shot off.
Kirsten O'Malley, who torched the Defenders for 25 points in the teams' previous meeting, took advantage of the Defenders' slow start. Her four points led all scorers after the first 8 minutes, and appeared to give the Montoursville sophomore an express lane to a repeat performance.
But, after challenging his team at halftime, Warrior Run played what Weaver called "Defender basketball" the rest of the way. And "Defender basketball" meant getting back to playing the style of defense its used to playing.
O'Malley was limited to just one second-half point as Warrior Run's defense took over.
The defensive effort was something Montoursville failed to handle. And after getting points from six different players in the first half, just two connected on shots from the field in the second.
"It shows that's what Lady Defender defense does to teams," Fisher said. "It shows how a team can come together and win."
Fisher's 13 second-half points most certainly helped Warrior Run's surge to retake the lead.
With the offense stalled in the first half, Fisher helped it regain some confidence with three field goals in the third quarter. Fisher, who routinely found herself open for jumpers throughout the second half, finished with 15 points.
"After I hit that first shot, I knew I was going to make the rest. That shot really boosted my confidence up a lot," Fisher said.
Fisher made six of her eight shots in the second half.
"Earlier in the year, Abby (Fisher) was a scorer," Weaver said. "Lately, she's been scoring about 10 points a game, and that has really helped us."
Warrior Run (45)
Abby Fisher 7 1-1 15; Chloe Eisenhuth 2 0-0 4; Mackenzie Hays 0 0-0 0; Laura Bastian 2 3-3 7; Taylor Parker 0 6-6 6; Steph Shamburg 5 3-4 13. Totals 16 13-14 45.
Kirsten O'Malley 2 3-4 7; Marissa Hall 2 1-2 5; McKenzie Ruffing 2 0-0 5; Carley Mill 3 0-0 7; Kelsey Stine 1 0-1 2; Kayla Venema 2 0-0 4; Ally Yocum 1 0-0 2. Totals 13 4-7 32.
Warrior Run 4 6 15 20-45
Montoursville 8 12 6 6-32
3-point goals: Warrior Run 0. Montoursville 2 (Mill, Ruffing).
JV score: Montoursville 28, Warrior Run 22.
High scorers: Montoursville-Marrissa Folk, 7. Warrior Run-Rachel Grow, 7.
Records: Warrior Run 13-6. Montoursville 15-5.
Next: Hughesville at Warrior Run, today, 7:30 p.m. Montoursville at Mt. Carmel, today, 7:30 p.m.