WELLMAN — There must be something in the water in Wellman or something in the air or maybe the Mid-Prairie High School coaches have a particularly stirring halftime talk.
Both girls and boys Golden Hawks basketball teams had an especially impressive third quarter to turn close river Valley Conference games into blowouts. T
hey would have ended by the same 62-44 score except the Wilton boys committed a lane violation on a free throw with under 10 seconds remaining to cancel a successful foul shot for a 62-43 final.
The girls led 16-12 after a quarter and 31-36 at the half, then 46-30 after the third.
“I challenged them at halftime to come out and play great defense and try to limit Wilton to single digits in the quarter,” said Mid-Prairie girls coach Danny Hershberger, who is in his first year at the helm. “I was really happy because of the way we came out and defended. But we were lax on defense in the second period and let them back in the game. It’s a great testament to our girls to step up and do that.”
The boys trailed 14-9 after one and were tied at 26 going into intermission, then scored the first 13 points of the second half and led 46-32 starting the final frame.
“It was definitely on the defensive and that made the difference,” Mid-Prairie boys coach Daren Lambert said. “I think our defense led to the offense. We were running transition off their long shots nd we got some rebounds that created some easy opportunities for us. Some guys made some shots and the rest of the team got more confidence when we saw the ball go through the net.”
Ethan Trimpe led the Golden Hawks with 20 points while Aidan Rath scored 14 and Carter Harmsen nine.
“My shot just depends on what’s open for me, but I like to start by driving and then that opens up my outside threes, but if I get an open shot anywhere, I’ll take it,” Trimpe said. “When we were in the locker room, we decided we needed to play more as a team. We changed things up on them in the third quarter and we did better at communicating And that kept them from really getting set. I think we really kept them off balance.”
Myah Lugar led the Golden Hawks with 19 in the girls game. She started hot despite going 0 for 11 in the Golden Hawks previous game. She had 10 of Mid-Prairie’s first 12 points and finished with 19.
“As a shooter, I have to always have confidence and believe that the next shot is going to go in,” Lugar said. “I can’t let what happened in the past affect me. My team did a good job moving well. They got me the ball in the right spots. We can score inside and that helped open up our outside. When I can make some from the outside, it opens up the scoring for everybody.”
Phelan Hostetler and Maddie Nonnenmann each put in 11 points. Lugar had two triples when the Golden Hawks went on a 13-2 run to start the second half.
“Defense wins games and sometimes your defense can be your best offense,” Lugar said. “We really wanted to focus on that. We put a lot of effort into our defense so that is a big thing for us.”
“It was all defense,” Lambert said of the boys. “I thought we could’ve been more active on the defensive end. The message was turn up the defense and then our offense will come. It was pleasant to see us kick that gear in.”
Many times there have been halftime speeches that didn’t result in what a coach asked for.
“It is very rewarding as a coach when you tell your team to do something and then they go and execute it,” Hershberger said. “Mayah shot the ball well and that is what we expect of her. Phelan stepped up in the fourth quarter. We put the ball inside and we felt we had an advantage there.”
Both teams play Friday, hosting West Branch.
The girls are 3-5 overall and in the RVC while the boys are 2-5.
“I think the kids just figured out that they could be playing better,” Lambert said. “We told him it was 0-0 at halftime, so we had to go out and treat the last two quarters like a brand-new ballgame.”