The only thing that could stop Willard in the second half Saturday afternoon was Willard's own coach.
When Jon Dawson mass substituted with 4:20 to go in the game against Columbian, he essentially ended an epic shooting streak his girls basketball team was on, burying 15 straight field goals over an eight-minute span.
The result was a 70-34 thrashing of the Tornadoes.
"We did catch fire there for a little bit. We have some pretty good shooters and when they get hot and start feeling it, it's pretty good. It makes it fun, for sure," Dawson said. "I think we had really good balance and we're sharing the basketball and everybody was scoring. We haven't shot that well in a long, long time. It's hard to believe that (we made that many in a row)."
Columbian coach Katie Fazekas said there's not a lot a team can do when their opponent is still scoring despite being defended.
"They shot it well," she said. "We really focused on stopping their post play and to an extent we did, but they hit us from the outside. They caught fire. I hope we do that someday."
Willard 70, Columbian 34
Willard (4-3, 2-1): Maggie King 1-0-2; Hannah Adams 3-0-6; Marie Thornton 3-0-6; Allie Worchester 0-0-0; Olivia Bauer 7-1-18; Madison Music 1-0-2; Emily Hamilton 0-0-0; Hunter Feltner 0-0-0; Hannah Schloemer 3-4-10; Maddy Crawford 0-0-0; Laura Danhoff 6-0-12; Gabi Baldridge 7-0-14. Totals 31-5-70.
Columbian (2-4, 0-2): Sidney Baker 0-2-2; Marissa Ward 1-0-2; Megan Moore 2-0-4; Jocelyn Cole 3-0-9; Valesha Province 4-0-11; Mackenzie Zimmerman 1-0-2; Michaela Moore 0-0-0; Payge Smith 2-0-4. Totals 13-2-34.
Willard12172615 - 70
Columbian101248 - 34
Field goals: Willard 31-60; Columbian 13-41.
3-point goals: Willard 3-11 (Bauer 3); Columbian 6-18 (Cole 3, Province 3).
Foul shots: Willard 5-13; Columbian 2-7.
Rebounds: Willard 38 (Danhoff 11); Columbian 28 (Smith 7).
Turnovers: Willard 11; Columbian 26.
The ridiculous shooting featured 13 buckets inside the arc and a pair of trifectas as Willard (4-3, 2-1 Northern Ohio League) took an 11-point lead, 35-24, and turned into a 40-point margin before the Crimson Flash scoring stopped flowing, 66-26.
In the third quarter alone, Willard went 13 of 18 from the floor while Columbian (2-4, 0-2 NOL) mustered just a 1-of-14 effort from the field.
"I thought that third quarter, that's what we're capable of," Dawson said. "I'm just trying get that out of them for 32 minutes every night."
On the night, Willard was 31 of 60 from the field and parlayed its height into a 38-28 rebounding advantage, including 16 on the offensive glass. The interior size of Willard, which featured 6-1 Laura Danhoff and 6-4 Gabi Baldridge, got rolling in the second half. The end result was a double-double for Danhoff with 12 points and 11 boards while Baldridge scored 14 and snagged five misses.
In the first half, Columbian played sound defense, denying Willard the interior and forcing the Crimson Flashes to settle for jumpers. The result was a 12-10 Columbian deficit after the first quarter and a 29-22 Willard lead at half.
"I was proud of our effort in the first half. I thought we put a good first half together. I thought in the second half, they sped us up faster than we wanted to go," Fazekas said.
Willard focused its defense on Valesha Province and Jocelyn Cole. In the first half, the pair buried two 3-pointers each and Province added a bucket in the paint. But Willard stymied the pair in the second half, holding each to a 3-pointer in the final 2-plus minutes against the Crimson Flashes' reserves.
"We knew coming in that they are really good perimeter players. A couple times in the first half, regardless of what we said in the game plan, we gave them a little too much space," Dawson said. "Cole seems to just keep backing up and I keep telling the girls, 'No, we're not giving her any space.' She's a pretty good shooter. I told them we have to focus on them and I thought they did a pretty good job of that."
Olivia Bauer led all scorers with 18 points for Willard while teammate Hannah Schloemer added 10 points in the blowout.
"Consistency is the last thing to come for a team that's growing and we're searching for that consistency," Fazekas said. "We'll find it. It's early."