CASPER — If you’ve ever wondered how the Lady Eagles build one of their big leads, the second quarter Friday night was a perfect example.
The Tongue River Lady Eagles, as many expected, stayed undefeated (27-0) and reached the 2A girls state semifinal Friday night, beating Southeast 48-32 in Casper.
While it didn’t come right off the bat, the Lady Eagles eventually found their groove and built a double-digit lead as the half wound down.
This was thanks, largely, to the Lady Eagles’ two Sarahs.
Sarah Nielsen scored 15 first-half points, including 7-of-7 from the free throw line, and Sarah Rawlings sparked her squad with two steals and five points, tormenting Southeast with her full court pressure.
“We established the inside game,” head coach Dianne Moser explained the difference in the game. “Sarah Nielsen really made some nice moves, and they all pretty much settled down. The fact that we had balanced offense, Megan hitting some of those threes, Sarah Rawlings with her hustle and her shooting. Sarah Nielsen … those girls havebeen responsible for our scoring all year long.”
The Lady Eagles finished the half on a 17-4 run.
In the second half, Southeast cut the lead from 35-18 down to 35-24, but a layup from Rawlings would ignite another Lady Eagles spurt.
Photo by Sarah Nielsen
Sarah Nielsen scores two of her 15 first half points against Southeast in the 2A girls state semifinal Friday night at the Casper Events Center.
Southeast made the deficit 11, and TR called a timeout, after which Megan Meyers and Rawlings would each hit a 3-pointer.
Up 43-28 after three, the Lady Eagles would add a big shot in the post by way of Eryn Aksamit and an and-1 play courtesy of Rawlings to extend their advantage to 18 points, the largest lead of the game. TR never trailed.
Nielsen would score all of her 15 in the first half, Rawlings followed with 13 and Meyers had 12. The Lady Eagles were 5-of-14 from behind the arc while Southeast didn’t make a single 3.
Both teams combined for just seven points in the fourth quarter. All the Lady Eagles needed was a 14-8 first quarter and a 21-10 second.
As for tomorrow night’s big game, Moser has been there before, and she had simple advice for her team:
“Enjoy this for a little bit,” she said. “We refocus; state championship games don’t happen very often. We want to take advantage of this and play our best basketball tomorrow.”
The Lady Eagles beat Thermopolis 52-28 Dec. 1 in their second game of the season.