EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — Schenck girls basketball coach Darrick Thompson said he doesn’t like to show an opponent the same game plan when they meet for the second time in a season.
What he also didn’t like were the results he was getting from using a zone defense against Penobscot Valley of Howland Monday night at Gillis Auditorium.
“Ultimately, we had to go back to our man-to-man,” said Thompson.
The defensive pressure the Wolverines applied in the second half turned a two-point halftime lead into a 72-47 victory.
“We knew we had to shut down [Sammi] Ireland,” said Schenck senior Kristin Thompson. “She was getting everything for them.”
Ireland scored 15 of her 18 points in the first half. She made one field goal in the third and a free throw in the fourth.
“They do love to play defense,” said coach Thompson of his Wolverines.
The results were plain to see on the stat sheet. The Howlers, with Molly McGinn hitting mainly short jumpers for 11 first-half points, were 12 for 18 from the floor in the first half. They were 7 for 28 in the second half.
Meanwhile, the Wolverines started hot with 7-for-10 shooting in the first quarter, but they fell to 3-for-19 in the second.
After the defensive change, Schenck shot 16 for 34 in the second half and just over 40 percent for the game.
“Usually, we come out hard in the third quarter,” said Schenck’s Kate Stanley. “Coach tells us games are won or lost in the third quarter.”
The visiting Howlers were hanging close at halftime, down 33-31.
“We didn’t anticipate they would be [only] two down at the half,” said Kristin Thompson. “We knew we had to pick up the defense.”
The effects of the defensive adjustment became evident in the first few seconds of the third quarter.
Olivia Lewis stole Penobscot Valley’s inbounds pass to start the third quarter and drove in for a layup, and that set the tone for the rest of the half.
Schenck pushed the lead as high as 17 points in the third at 52-35, then kept it going in the fourth.
“Defense is how we start our offense,” said the Schenck coach.
It was the second point-worthy win in a row for the Wolverines, now 12-2 in Eastern Maine Class D play. They defeated Class C Orono 47-41 on Friday. Penobscot Valley dropped to 8-6.
“Orono was a good turning point for us,” said Darrick Thompson. “Hopefully, the girls will ride that wave.”
Kristin Thompson finished with a game-high 20 points for Schenck, her sister Morgan posted 19 and Stanley added 15.
McGinn led the Howlers with 19 points, Ireland added 18 and Kayla Dube had eight.
The game started out like sprint with Schenck knocking down five 3-pointers, taking a 23-12 lead with 1:28 left in the opening quarter.
“This was probably our best 3-point shooting night,” said Kristin Thompson. “Usually we only have one person making them. This time we had a couple.”
Actually, it was four, and they combined for seven in the first half, including a pair from Stanley.
“”It felt good to get my jump shot back,” she said. “The last couple of games I’ve been struggling.”
The Wolverines needed the 3s because the Howlers hanging in with their layups and short jumpers.
With Schenck up 35-33 early in the third, Stanley hit a field goal, Kristin Thompson made a conventional three-point play, Morgan Thompson hit a 3 and Stanley added a 3 and field goal as the Wolverines started to stretch their legs.
McGinn made the Howlers’ only hoop during that stretch.