BASCOM - Perhaps it is that ever-present old-school approach that has Steve Lucius constantly looking for the better shot even as it pertains to last-second desperation heaves.
But if there was an early frown when junior point guard Kara Scherger let one fly from 70 feet, the veteran New Riegel coach couldn't hide his smile when the shot banked in at the halftime buzzer for a four-point lead over Hopewell-Loudon here Thursday.
The Blue Jackets then took their game inside in the second half and dominated the boards at both ends on the way to a 65-47 Midland Athletic League victory.
New Riegel’s Kara Scherger shoots over Hopewell-Loudon’s Hope Brickner Thursday in Bascom.
Hopewell-Loudon, playing for only the second time in the school's new gymnasium, gave unbeaten New Riegel a run the first half. The Chieftains put three 3-pointers by Courtney Burns and one by Aleta Daniel to use in leading by one at the quarter break and seemingly trailing by one at the half.
But when Daniel's last shot of the half was off the mark, the ball ended up in Scherger's hands and she turned and fired away successfully from three-quarters court to give New Riegel a 35-31 lead.
"That was unbelievable," Lucius said after his club improved to 4-0 overall and 1-0 in the league. "The thing is, I wasn't real happy when she threw it. I thought there were still a couple seconds left on the clock and I thought she could have gotten at least to half-court.
"Then I thought, well, OK, and when it went in, I was like, OK!" he said. "That gave us a nice lift."
Chieftain coach Rod Daniel was in agreement.
"In the first half, we played real hard and were up-tempo and that's what we wanted to do," he said. "That was a heart-breaking 3-pointer that sent us to the locker room, but we were still only four [points behind].
"In the second half, I thought we started to pass up shots we had been getting before," he said. "But the real difference was that they got a lot of easy baskets on rebounds and putbacks. That was an area where we didn't do a real good job tonight - boxing out. And that made a huge difference."
Each team had 19 rebounds at halftime, but the Blue Jackets owned a 12-4 edge on the boards in the third period and finished with a 40-30 advantage for the game.
Taylor Kirian scored on a drive and a post move to open the second half, Lauren Ladd added three baskets in the middle portion and Taylor Arbogast scored eight of the team's final 10 points over the final 2:39 of the quarter.
New Riegel pushed its margin to 53-41 with all 18 third-quarter points coming from inside personnel.
"We were out of control that first half," Lucius said. "It was like we were excited to be pressed because we're not pressed very often. But we were just coming down and throwing the ball away and throwing up stuff. It was ugly.
"The second half, yes; if we have numbers, take it. But otherwise, let's run some offense," he said. "I thought we did a better job of executing in the half-court and our posts did a much better job offensively."
Scherger led the winners with 19 points, including three 3-pointers, five assists and six steals. But the inside trio came up big as Arbogast had 17 points and nine rebounds, Ladd 13 points and nine boards and Kirian 10 points and eight rebounds.
"We talked about (rebounding) big-time at halftime," Lucius said. "We said we'd better be aggressive and we'd better get after the basketball because these guys we're playing are aggressive.
"They were coming in and getting after it and we were just kind of passive on the boards that first half," he said. "It was a point of emphasis."
Burns had four treys on the way to 19 points and Daniel had a pair of 3-pointers while scoring 12 for the Chieftains (1-2, 1-1). Freshman Brook Arbogast added 10 points and led in rebounding with nine.