After a tough first half, Highland’s acting coaches were encouraged by the Huskies’ effort down the stretch in a 57-50 loss at English Valleys on Thursday.
After trailing by as many as 20 points, Highland used a full court press to cut the lead to 53-49 with an 18-3 run in the fourth quarter.
“We’re a great team when we start communicating, and that’s what we started doing better tonight,” said assistant coach Michael Eden, filling in for coach Jody Fink who missed the game with an illness.
Assistant coach Cheyenne Adamson echoed the sentiment, “I heard the leaders start speaking up towards the end of the game. And I want them to, but we need them to do that in the beginning. I think they had a great turnaround, and I was very impressed.”
English Valleys took a 50-31 lead with a 3-pointer, which would be the Bears’ only field goal of the fourth quarter.
Dani Laughlin scored seven straight points to pull the Huskies within eight. She scored twice in the fourth quarter on fast break layups and finished with a team-high 15 points.
The Huskies had a chance to make it a one possession game after Laughlin drew an offensive foul down just four points in the final minutes. Highland’s next shot went off the rim and English Valleys was able to close out the game at the free throw line.
Highland started the game in a 3-2 zone defense, but found success with some different defensive strategies down the stretch.
“We were having troubles covering the high post so I thought with the 2-3 we could cover it a little better,” Adamson said. “I think they felt more comfortable running it, and I think English Valleys was not expecting it. So I think it kind of messed up their game as well, and then when we started pressing you saw even more that they didn’t know what to do.”
Abbi Stranksy was a consistent scorer for the Huskies with seven points in each half. Her offensive rebound and ensuing 3-point shot gave Highland a 9-7 lead in the first quarter, but the Bears hit three shots from outside during a 13-0 run to end the quarter.
Freshman Sarah Burton scored the first six Huskie points and finished with 12.